Coloured Lenses, Reading Difficulties and Learning Difficulties
Since the late 1980’s coloured lenses have been used to correct various vision problems. There are some symptoms relating to visual discomfort when reading that can affect both struggling readers and those without reading difficulties, where coloured lenses might be just one of the treatments considered.
Pattern Glare occurs when a regular pattern encountered in the environment creates symptoms that are visually uncomfortable. Some examples include textured carpet, flickering lights, shopping centre aisles and print on a page.
A summary of information about lenses and pattern glare can be found here:
Coloured lenses do not treat dyslexia, reading difficulties or learning difficulties, and so a diagnosis of dyslexia doesn’t mean you immediate will need or even benefit from coloured lenses.
What follows, discusses the printed page in particular.
Symptoms of Visual Stress/Visual Discomfort/Pattern Glare include:
- Find the page too bright when you read
- Find patterns difficult to look at or even make you feel sick
- Words move on the page
- Get sore eyes when reading
- Restlessness while reading
- Difficulty tracking or copying
- Need to close your eyes or look away when reading.
- Possible links to visually sensitive migraines
- Dislike reading or working in fluorescent lighting
These symptoms can make reading less comfortable and less enjoyable. A coloured tint or overlay might provide some symptomatic relief for some people, but other vision problems also need to be considered.
Research continues into the benefit of coloured lenses in migraine. Research is still inconclusive on the benefits of colour specifically on reading speed or fluency.
The Importance of a Thorough Vision Exam
There are common vision problems that will be associated with many of the same symptoms listed above. Before any coloured lens or overlay is considered, a thorough vision exam is recommended to rule out vision problems that result in the same symptoms (a “sight” exam and a refraction is not enough).
What’s Important in a Vision Examination?
When considering whether a coloured lens might be indicated, it is important that this vision examination includes a thorough assessment of binocular vision and accommodation (convergence/eye teaming/focusing), as well as your prescription and eye health. In many people, management of underlying refractive, binocular or accommodation problems with glasses and/or eye exercises might be indicated.
In situations where the patient continues to suffer symptoms, particularly in the presence of signs of pattern glare sensitivity (sensitivity to patterns, also known as Visual Stress/Visual Discomfort), coloured lenses might be of additional benefit in symptom relief. Your daily tasks, the lighting you work/read under and the presence of other vision problems are taken into account as part of the prescribing process. The use of a Intuitive Colorimeter helps determine what colours might reduce symptoms and often guides whether the patient likely to notice benefit or not from a tint.