Visual Stress Testing

Visual stress testing


Reading difficulty

Are you having difficulties while reading?

Visual stress is a condition where you are faced with difficulties in reading and headaches from exposure to disturbing visual patterns. If you find yourself suffering from recurring headaches, difficulty looking at computer screens and light sensitivity, it could mean you require a visual stress test.

Berry's Opticians has been conducting visual stress testing for several years. Our experts with their skills and expertise can correctly conduct this test while keeping you as comfortable as possible. Choose us if you are looking for a reliable optometrist in Barnsley.

What are the symptoms of visual stress?

In today's modern, media driven world it is estimated that up to 20% of the population suffer some form of visual stress on a daily basis. Symptoms range from headaches, eyestrain/ache to problems with glare and brightness from light sources. In children, one of the most common manifestations is difficulty in reading. Teachers and parents may notice words being missed, trouble finding the start of a new line of text or re-reading the same line. Letters and words can mix, jumble or wobble on the page. Visual stress is not the same as dyslexia, but is more common in individuals with dyslexia.
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What causes visual stress?

What causes visual stress?

The problem is due to how a part of the brain which processes vision (the visual cortex) interprets patterns of lines or stripes called spatial frequencies. These patterns are all around us and processed constantly, some are restful on the eyes whilst others create harsh patterns uncomfortable to look at. It is commonly picked up in children during reading as this is a common task and a page of printed text is essentially a page full of spatial frequencies (lines or stripes).
Pioneers in the study of visual stress Olive Meares and Helen Irlen discovered that many peoples symptoms can be greatly improved by viewing text through a coloured filter called an overlay. The filter effectively reduces the excitability of cells in the visual cortex and allows spatial patterns to be viewed with greater comfort. The overlay colour can vary from person to person and can change over time.

How we can help:

At Berry's we can assess an individual for visual stress to see if a coloured overlay would be of benefit. With the appropriate filter reading ages in children can sometimes improve 3-4 years in a matter of weeks. This can have a dramatic effect on learning and also improve confidence and self esteem.

Meares-Irlen syndrome is not limited to learning in children, adults suffer just the same but appear to tolerate/adapt to symptoms over time. However, research has also shown benefits to individuals struggling to read after a stroke or those suffering from photosensitive migraine.

Anyone with symptoms of visual stress when reading will need a full eye test first, by a qualified Optometrist to exclude any obvious visual problems that may be causing symptoms.

If no visual problem is detected, a coloured overlay test is performed. At Berry's we use a computer software program to establish which colour of filter is preferred and checked against baseline data. The selected overlay is then supplied for a period of six weeks to see if any improvement has been found.

If an improvement is found the overlays can be supplied as needed or tinted spectacles can be provided. This aids compliance and is a more convenient option especially in the classroom. The tint required on the spectacle lens will differ from the selected overlay and further testing will establish the correct tint.

Please be aware that visual stress testing is not an NHS service and we do have to charge for the consultation a fee of £45:00 which includes the initial overlay supply. Precision tinted lenses and spectacles start from £125:00.
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Visual stress testing
Are you looking for children's eye testing experts in Barnsley?
Book your appointment with Berry's Opticians on
01226 203 074
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