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Dyslexia and visual stress

Signs of dyslexia can vary from person to person. In children, not all with the condition will display the same reading strengths or weaknesses.

Spotting the signs can be difficult, especially in younger children.
The term dyslexia covers a range of conditions with diagnosis usually made by a child psychologist. If you are concerned about how your child is progressing with their reading and writing, it’s best to first talk to their teacher and consider booking a sight test. Visual stress is a term used to describe visual discomfort and perceptual distortions in the printed text, suffered by many people who struggle to read.

There are tests that we can carry out to assess their stress sensitivity to glare and this is where coloured overlays could be of benefit. Read on to learn more about coloured overlays and how they could help mitigate visual perception issues.

Is dyslexia genetic?

It is possible for somebody to inherit dyslexia from their parents as there is often a genetic factor in developmental dyslexia, and this would affect the regions of the brain responsible for reading and learning. However, other members of the family could present varying levels of the learning disorder.

It is estimated that up to 20% of dyslexic people experience visual stress and also the general population in varying degrees.

Dyslexia sufferers often have other conditions, including dyscalculia, ADD and ADHD


1 in 6 adults has the reading level of an 11-year-old


Dyslexia isn't related to a person's general level of intelligence, people of all intellectual abilities can be affected


Dyslexia often seems to run in families. Certain genes inherited from parents may act together in a way that affects how parts of the brain develop early on


Between 5% - 10% of the global population suffer with dyslexia


The following symptoms are common in visual stress:

  • Tiring easily when reading
  • Letters changing shape or size
  • Halos of colour surrounding letters
  • Red, sore, watery eyes
  • Blurring of print
  • Patterns on print

What are coloured overlays?

Coloured overlays are sheets of coloured plastic that can be placed over a page of a book so as to colour the text beneath without interfering with its clarity. Coloured overlays reduce the perceptual distortions of text that children sometimes describe, some children can read text more fluently and with less discomfort and fewer headaches.
Coloured overlays
Tinted lenses in spectacles are available as a longer term option. It is important to assess the effects of a wide range of colours because individuals do not all benefit from the same colour. Book today if you feel your child might be struggling with their vision.

Is colour the right solution?

  1. Eye examination

If you're showing signs of visual difficulty when reading, we recommend a full eye examination. If symptoms of eye strain and/or visual stress are not helped by glasses, then an assessment of coloured overlays can be considered.

  1. Overlay assessment

Our optometrists can carry out an overlay assessment and may suggest that you try an overlay when reading for a few weeks, noting any improvements.

  1. Colorimetry assessment

The colorimetry assessment may result in precision tinted glasses being prescribed to the you. The colour will be more specific to each individual's needs. This is more precise than the overlay assessment and very often produces a different colour to the overlays. Using coloured lenses means any benefit is gained looking at screens and are therefore more convenient and more practical than overlays.

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