Visual Stress is caused by a hyperexcitability of neurones in the Visual Cortex. This means that some of the cells in the part of the brain which deals with processing visual information are working too fast and not responding in the way they should.
As well as reading difficulties, Visual Stress also causes fatigue, lack of concentration, light sensitivity and headaches.
Within the Visual Cortex, some of the cells are colour sensitive. By placing a colour, in the form of a coloured contact lens, in front of the eye the cells are slowed and calmed to reduce Visual Stress.
Do I have Visual Stress?
Approximately 5% of the population are severely affected by Visual Stress and 20% to a lesser degree.
Symptoms of Visual Stress include the following:
• Print that moves or blurs
• Letters changing shape or size
• Letters fading or becoming darker
• Patterns like “worms” or “rivers” running through the print
• Illusions of colour – blobs of colour on the page or colours surrounding letters or words
• Getting fatigued easily when reading
• Headache or eyestrain
• Moving closer to or away from page
• Using a finger as a marker
• Skipping words and lines
• Rubbing eyes and blinking excessively
• Low self esteem
Symptoms and signs of visual stress are not always immediately obvious. Many sufferers believe the discomfort they feel when reading or the distortions they experience on the page are “normal” and experienced by everyone. That is until they try correction with appropriate coloured lenses and they realise that reading can become more comfortable and even enjoyable.
The simple application of correctly prescribed coloured lenses at an early stage could save years of anxiety and prevent the downward slide in confidence, which occurs in most cases where children struggle to read.
Visual Stress and Dyslexia
Visual Stress is common among Dyslexic individuals, although it is a separate condition from Dyslexia. If Visual Stress is identified and colour is used to alleviative some of the symptoms this can benefit Dyslexics.
However, symptoms of Visual Stress can also be the product of ocular anomalies such as refraction problems or the inability of the eyes to work in unison. Such anomalies can often be rectified by prescribing refraction spectacles or exercises. It is therefore very important that ocular problems are thoroughly investigated before proceeding with a Colorimeter examination – so it’s important you contact a reputable optometrist.