Visual Stress

visual-stress-1Dyslexia? Vision Problem? Or is it Something Else?

Coloured Lenses and Reading Difficulties

Coloured lenses do not treat dyslexia or reading difficulties, and so a diagnosis of dyslexia doesn’t mean you need coloured lenses.  Vice versa, the need to wear coloured lenses doesn’t suggest dyslexia or a reading difficulty.  However, there are some symptoms relating to discomfort when reading that can affect both struggling readers and those without reading difficulties, where a coloured lenses might be just one of the treatments considered. Research continues on the benefit of coloured lenses in migraine and epilepsy. Research is still inconclusive on the benefits of colour specifically on reading speed or fluency.

Symptoms of Visual Stress/Visual Discomfort 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.

Not Everyone Benefits from Colour – The Importance of a Thorough Vision Exam

We are conservative in the way we use tints, as 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?colorimeter-mk3

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 provides enough symptomatic relief.

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.