Children are encouraged to enjoy books from a young age, and learning to read is a huge part of their early years at school. Therefore, for parents, seeing your child struggling to read can be worrying. However if your child is having difficulty reading it may be a sign of visual stress.
What is visual stress?
Visual stress causes an individual to have difficulty when reading. They may experience light sensitivity, headaches or other ‘stresses’ which are brought on by looking at text at close distance. Reading can become very tiring and uncomfortable for children with visual stress.
What are the symptoms?
Someone with visual stress may experience symptoms such as moving text, blurred text, patterns, lights or blobs of colour appearing on the page or sore head or eyes, when they read.
What signs might parents notice if their child has visual stress?
Your child may be struggling to concentrate on homework or visual tasks for any length of time. They might fidget while doing work, or move the task nearer or further away. Your child might miss words or lines when reading, frequently re-reading the same line or rubbing their eyes.
Visual stress and dyslexia
Visual stress is not the same as dyslexia, however people with dyslexia may well experience visual stress. By treating visual stress, some of the difficulties caused by dyslexia may be alleviated.
How can visual stress be treated?
Some cases of visual stress can be treated easily by changing the colour of background that they read on. A simple colour overlay can make a huge difference, as it is often the glare from a white background that causes many of the symptoms. Tinted reading glasses can also be worn.
What do I do if my child has the signs of visual stress?
Make an appointment with your optometrist, ensure they have experience in diagnosing visual stress. They will be able to identify it quickly and be able to assist in treating the symptoms, referring them to an expert if required.
For further information on dyslexia and the eyes please visit the British Dyslexia Association.