What is visual stress?


Visual stress, also known as Meares-Irlen Syndrome, is a condition referring to difficulties with reading due to perceived “distortions” in pages of text. This occurs due to hyper-excitability of the visual cortex (the part of the brain responsible for visual processing) when viewing certain visual patterns.


Symptoms include:


  • Movement of print

  • Doubling of words

  • Blurring of print

  • Glare, especially from a white page

  • Slow reading / re-reading the same line

  • Patterns appearing in printed text

  • Poor comprehension of reading content

  • Eyestrain or fatigue

  • Discomfort when reading.


It has been scientifically proven that for certain patients suffering from visual stress these symptoms can be significantly reduced with the use of a specific coloured filter.


Who is affected?


Research suggests that up to 20% of the general population are affected by visual stress.


Visual stress can affect anyone but is more common in conditions including: dyslexia,  photosensitive migraine and epilepsy, autism spectrum disorders and ADHD.


Coloured overlays have been scientifically shown to benefit 20% of primary school children suffering with visual stress.


Our aim.


To establish those patients suffering from visual stress / Meares-Irlen Syndrome who would benefit from a specific tint and provide the appropriate correction in the form of a coloured overlay, clip on tint or tinted spectacles (to prescription if needed)


What does it involve?


Firstly we would recommend a full and thorough eye examination including how well the eyes are working together (binocular function) and whether prescription spectacles or eye exercises are needed.


All children under 16 are entitled to a free eye examination, once a year, on the NHS.


If spectacles or eye exercises are required, these can be issued after this examination. In many cases spectacles or eye exercises alone can remedy the problem. However, should spectacles not be required and / or  symptoms persist, then  Colour Sensitivity Screening is recommended.


Colour Sensitivity screening takes approximately 30 minutes and involves viewing a passage of text under differing coloured light levels until an optimum coloured filter is found.


At the end of the assessment we are able to determine if this specified tint improves symptoms and/or reading speed.


This unique colour can then be printed (there and then!) onto your own customisable clear acetate overlay for you to take home and start using immediately!


Depending on the success of the overlay other options are available such as clip-ons* or tinted lenses* which are perfect if a spectacle prescription is also required.


*A further colour sensitivity screening assessment will be required to provide tinted clip-ons or tinted spectacle lenses


Unfortunately, Colour Sensitivity Screening is not covered by the NHS.


The initial assessment costs £55 and includes two customised overlays.


For tinted lenses a further assessment is required which costs £30.


Specific tinted clip-ons cost £35 each.


Specific tinted spectacle lenses start from £99.50 incl. frame.

What if I don’t benefit from colour sensitivity screening?


Do not be disappointed! Unfortunately, there are patients with visual stress that do not benefit from coloured filters. If this is the case then there may be other underlying issues which need addressing and we may be able to refer you on to another health care professional.