Visual Stress

Approximately 5% of the population are severely affected by Visual Stress and 20% to a lesser degree

This is a condition which is also known as “Mears-Irlen” syndrome.
Visual Stress refers to reading difficulties, light sensitivity and headaches from exposure to disturbing visual patterns. It can be responsible for print distortion and rapid fatigue when reading. The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person.

The symptoms can occur despite normal vision.


  • movement of print
  • blurring of print
  • letters changing shape or size
  • letters fading or becoming darker
  • patterns appearing, sometimes describes as “worms” or “rivers” running through print
  • illusions of colour – blobs of colour on the page or colours surrounding letters or words
  • rapid tiring
  • headache or eyestrain


  • moving closer to or away from page
  • becoming restless
  • using finger as a marker
  • skipping words and lines
  • rubbing eyes and blinking excessively
  • low self esteem

Symptoms of visual stress are not always immediately obvious. Many individuals who suffer with this condition believe the discomfort they feel when reading or the distortions they experience on the page are “normal” and experienced by everyone. That is until someone presents them with an appropriate colour and they realise that reading can become more comfortable and even enjoyable.

The simple application of an overlay at an early stage could save years of anxiety and prevent the downward slide in confidence which occurs in most cases where children struggle to read.


Dyslexia is a term used to describe various specific learning difficulties that affect the ability to learn to read and spell correctly. Visual Stress is NOT Dyslexia but can be particularly prevalent in Dyslexic individuals. If Visual Stress is identified and colour is used to alleviative some of the symptoms then other learning difficulties such as Dyslexia are easier to cope with.

Many people with Dyslexia may also suffer with visual stress and can therefore be helped by colour. Equally there are a large percentage of children and indeed adults who are not identified as being Dyslexic but still suffer with these symptoms. The appropriate coloured overlay or Precision Tinted Lenses can also help this group of individuals.


Migraine has different triggers in different people. For some, visual sensitivity can be a trigger. So, for example, they find flicker from artificial lighting or glare from strong visual patterns (eg ironing a stripy shirt) trigger a migraine. In these patients a Visual Stress and colorimetery assessment could lead to a dramatic reduction in migraines.

How do coloured lenses for migraine sufferers work?

Research using fMRI brain scanners showed excessive brain activity in migraine sufferers looking at intense visual patterns. When the same patterns were viewed through prescribed precision tinted lenses, this brain activity was reduced. This explains the reduction in symptoms for patients who suffer from visually sensitive migraine.

Forbes Eyecare specialises in diagnosing and treating patients with Visual Stress.

We use coloured overlays, coloured glasses and eye exercises, which often lead to amazing improvements in reading speed and attention span. We use a colorimeter to help select the best colour for you. There are over 100,000 colour combinations!

To find out more about Visual Stress, and how Forbes Eyecare might be able to help you, please get in touch.

Get in touch by using the form below

7 + 1 = ?

Contact Information

Forbes Eyecare
60 South Street
West Sussex PO19 1DS


Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Instagram

Opening Hours

Monday: 9am – 5.30pm
Tuesday: 9am – 5.30pm
Wednesday: 9am – 5.30pm
Thursday: 9am – 5.30pm
Friday: 9am – 5.30pm
Saturday: 9am – 5.30pm
Sunday: CLOSED