Research has shown that approximately 20% of the population suffers from discomfort when looking at certain regular patterns (including rows of text). This can lead to severe headache and migraine and in others just varying degrees of discomfort. This phenomenon was first recognised by a teacher in New Zealand (Olive Meares) and a pychologist in the US (Helen Irlen) so the condition became known a Irlen syndrome or Meares-Irlen syndrome. However, the more general term of “Visual Stress” is now preferred.

Symptoms typically include “words appearing to move, wobble or flicker”, “shadows or colours in the text” or just general “eye strain”.  This can result in a reduction in reading speed, reduced fluency or just an aversion to reading.

For reasons that are not well-understood, changing the background colour of the text has been found to reduce or, in some cases, eliminate the symptoms. While some colours seem to be chosen more than others, the colour which minimises the symptoms seems to differ between patients.

The condition can be managed by using ReadEZ coloured overlays (sheets of coloured overlays which are placed over the reading material) or coloured lenses.

If feel your child may benefit from an assessment for Visual Stress, do get in touch.