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Visual stress

Learning to read can be very difficult for some children. Reading at home can cause battles with children putting up great resistance. Sometimes this is a phase and passes, for other children, this resistance can remain throughout their school years. Being a reluctant, often slow, reader can then be a hurdle in all academic subjects. It may be that your child is suffering from visual stress, a condition that, it is estimated, affects around 20% of the population, and a condition that could be improved in a number of ways. 

Visual stress can also affect adults, in particular when reading or working on a screen. In particular, we’ve found those with photosensitivity or migraines often benefit from a precision tint lens. 

When to make an appointment

For many, a one-off appointment is enough to make a real difference to their reading. Here are some signs you or your child could be suffering from visual stress and will benefit from attending our Visual Stress Clinic:
- movement of printed text
- blurring of print
- letters changing in size or shape
- patterns in the print (sometimes described as rivers or worms)
- halos of colour surrounding letters or words
- tiring easily whilst reading
- headaches or visual discomfort
- frustration, sometimes embarrassment, when asked to read out loud
- a general resistance to read, resulting in avoidance.

At the Visual Stress Clinic

At your child’s initial appointment, we will look at how well they use their eyes, for example, binocular stability; how well their eyes work together. If there is found to be some instability, we can show you exercises that will help the eyes coordinate better.

In addition, we will look at whether a colour overlay would make reading more comfortable for them. During the process our optometrist will assess your child’s ease of reading, finding the exact colour which makes reading most comfortable for them. It is incredible to see the difference a simple overlay can make in terms of speed and ease of reading. Often children will take the overlay home that day. Your optometrist will follow up several weeks later to see how they are getting on. At this stage, we can discuss whether coloured glasses may be beneficial, and if so, they would come in for a colorimetry test.

Our specialist optometrist can also provide you with a short report of our findings to share with their teachers.


If your child is finding overlays beneficial, they may wish to have some glasses with coloured lenses made. Using the very latest in colorimetry technology, the Cerium Curve, a precision tinted lens can be individually designed for them using sophisticated computer screening and then glazed into their chosen frame.

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