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Visual Stress & Colorimetry

Do you or your child have difficulty reading or suffer from migraines?


Precision tints or coloured overlays could be the solution for you.

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colorimery testing visual stress

What is Visual Stress?

Visual stress is a term used to describe visual discomfort and perceptual distortions in text and is suffered by many people who struggle with reading.


The condition is estimated to be present in approximately 40% of poor readers and 20% of the general population.


When thinking of children, in a classroom of 25 children, that would suggest that 5 children could be suffering from Visual Stress.

Individuals who find reading tiring and unpleasant, are suffering from visual stress.


They have to put a lot of effort in to achieve the same results as their peers.


However, many of these people could be helped by overlays or Precision Tinted Lenses.

Frustration and low self-esteem can occur in children who are underachieving due to Visual Stress, so early diagnosis of the problem is essential.


The longer it takes to identify and remedy Visual Stress, the greater the loss of confidence that can result.

Many individuals who suffer from visual stress believe the symptoms they experience on the page are “normal” and experienced by everyone.


That is until someone shows them an appropriate colour overlay and they realise that reading can become more comfortable - even enjoyable!


Signs of Visual Stress

Only one or two of the signs of Visual Stress may be present.

  • Holding books nearer or further away than usual

  • Fidgeting when trying to read or concentrate

  • Using a finger as a marker on the page

  • Skipping words or lines

  • Frequently re-reads the same line

  • Rubbing eyes or blinking excessively

  • Reduced comprehension of reading content

  • Frustration and low self-esteem

Symptoms of Visual Stress

Symptoms can occur despite normal vision and can include:

  • Movement of the printed text

  • Blurring of print

  • Letters changing 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, visual discomfort or even migraines

  • Red, sore, watery eyes

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is this Dyslexia?
    No. Dyslexia is a learning difficulty which causes the person with the condition to have problems with reading, writing, spelling as well as other things. People with dyslexia often suffer from visual stress and will benefit from overlays or tinted lenses. However, people can have visual stress but not be dyslexic. While we can diagnose and treat visual stress, we cannot diagnose dyslexia. This is carried out by an Educational Psychologist. As a first step, contact a patient’s teacher to see what interventions have been made already.
  • How can we reduce the symptoms?
    The reduction of Visual Stress occurs only when the colour of overlay / lens is selected to suit the individual. The ideal selection of lenses is best achieved with the aid of the Intuitive Colorimeter, an assessment that determines the precise tint to help alleviate Visual Stress. Coloured overlays are widely used by teachers in schools throughout the UK. If an overlay proves useful it is highly likely that precision tinted lenses (in glasses) will also be beneficial. The glasses are then used for writing as well as reading. A full eye examination is necessary before a colorimetry assessment. Our in house Dispensing Optician Jess Portsmouth has taken additional training to specialise in colorimetry. Precision tinted lenses frequently result in reading that is more fluent and comfortable, and some lens wearers enjoy significant improvement in both reading rate and accuracy. The degree of improvement differs; some individuals experience improvements in reading age of between one and two years within a few weeks of wearing the lenses. In others, the lenses may offer greater comfort when reading, but the reading improvement may be less dramatic because of other reading difficulties.
  • How do I book an appointment?
    Give us a call to: Book in for a routine sight test if you haven’t had one for more than 1 year. You may be entitled to an NHS eye examination. If you are not eligible, then our standard eye examination fee is £30.00. Book in for a separate appointment immediately after the eye examination, (i.e. the same day), with our Visual Stress Expert, Jess Portsmouth.
  • What happens at the Visual Stress Consultation?
    Jess will; 1. Check reading speeds with and without overlays - if reading speeds are improved with an overlay, these are tried at home and school for a few weeks. 2. A follow up appointment is booked to then refine the coloured overlay that makes the greatest improvement to symptoms. 3. A Colourimetry appointment is then booked to find the precise tint which will then be incorporated into the glasses, meaning much more convenience for reading from the whiteboard, screens and reading.
  • What are the costs?
    A Visual Stress Consultation costs £50 – including two follow up appointments. Incorporating a precise colour into a pair of glasses or contact lenses costs £180 - £250 per pair. This can be placed onto a direct debit so that you don’t have to pay the full amount in straight away.
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