Visual Stress

Do you / your child / your student have any of these problems when reading:

  • losing the place continually?
  • headaches or eye strain?
  • blurring or ‘movement’ of print?
  • a glare from white paper?

Select one of the following Dyslexia Consultancy Malvern checklists for visual stress: Child primary, Child secondary, Adult, Adult low literacy or try the OmniRead approach.

Vision assessment

If a number of the indicators are relevant the next stage is arranging an eye examination with an optometrist (an optician trained to carry out eye tests) or an orthoptist (who specialises in the muscles of the eye) who knows about dyslexia. Your local British Dyslexia Association may be able to advise on specialists near you.

Specialist optometrists

Otherwise contact Cerium Visual Technologies or look at the website of the Society for Coloured Lens Prescribers to locate the nearest specialist with this expertise. When making the appointment, dyslexia should be mentioned.

The optometrist/orthoptist will need to carry out a thorough eye examination, because the particular eye problems associated with dyslexia are often not picked up during routine eye tests.


They may prescribe spectacles or eye exercises.

They may run through a range of coloured overlays (non-reflective sheets of plastic placed over text) to see if these make reading easier.

If a coloured overlay helps over a period of time, tinted spectacle lenses may be recommended. Testing may be carried out on a Colorimeter (a box through which different shades of colour are projected) to decide the best tint.


There will be a charge even for those in education or on benefits, ask when you make the appointment. However, university students may be able to claim some of the costs through the Disabled Students Allowance.

Self-help options

In the meantime, the following may be helpful:

  • a coloured eye-level reading ruler from Crossbow Education
  • writing on tinted paper (lined A4 pads are available)
  • photocopying important handouts/articles onto tinted paper before study
  • changing the colours on the computer screen to lessen black/white contrast; a guide on how to do this available on the BBC website
  • using a screen reading ruler, available from

Migraines, epilepsy and colour

Migraine sufferers and photosensitive epileptics can also benefit from the use of colour.

Go through a checklist for visual stress (or, ideally, get someone to run through it with you) to find out if you need to investigate further.