Eyes and Dyslexia

On this page you will find information regarding:

  1. Visual Stress.
  2. Finding a specialist practitioner.
  3. Resources.
  4. Aids for visual stress.
  5. Further reading.

Visual Stress.

People with visual stress may experience one or several of the following:

  • Blurred letters or words which go out of focus.
  • Letters which move or present with back to front appearance or shimmering or shaking.
  • Headaches from reading.
  • Words or letters which break into two and appear as double.
  • Find it easier to read large, widely spaced print, than small and crowded.
  • Difficulty with tracking across the page.
  • Upset by glare on the page or oversensitive to bright lights.

In some cases any of these symptoms can significantly affect reading ability. It can also make reading very tiring. Of course a child will not necessarily recognise what they see as a problem, as this is how they always see text.

If a child complains of a least one of these problems or has difficulty at school, they should be referred to an optometrist or orthoptist with expertise in this particular field (see contact details below). Many dyslexic people are sensitive to the glare of white backgrounds on a page, white board or computer screen. This can make the reading of text much harder.

  • The use of cream or pastel coloured backgrounds can mitigate this difficulty as can coloured filters either as an overlay or as tinted reading glasses. - People with reading difficulties sometimes have a weakness in eye co-ordination or focussing and an specialist practitioner might recommend treating this with eye exercises or glasses. If these problems are present, they should be detected and treated before coloured filters are prescribed.
  • The choice of colour of text on white backgrounds can also affect clarity e.g. using red on a whiteboard can render the text almost invisible for some dyslexic students. For information on dyslexia friendly text see Dyslexia Style Guide.

An example of visual stress:

An Example of visual stress

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Finding a specialist practitioner.

You are advised to ensure that any practitioner is properly trained and qualified in this area.

Aston University (Birmingham) Optometry Depatrment.

Not for profit Learning and Vision Clinic.
Tel: 0121 204 3900
Email: eyecare@aston.ac.uk
Web: http://www1.aston.ac.uk/lhs/health-clinics/optometry/children-binocular/

Bradford University Optometry Eye Clinic.

Free initial assessment for visual stress.
Tel: 01274 234649

British Association of Behavioral Optometrists (BABO).

Ask for your nearest accredited behavioural optometrist or see list online.

Email: admin@babo.co.uk
Web: http://www.babo.co.uk

Dyslexia Research Trust have Eye Clinics in Reading and Oxford.

Tel: 0118 958 5950
Web: www.dyslexic.org.uk
A leading research organisation into the visual aspects of dyslexia.

The Institute of Optometry.

Runs courses for teachers and eyecare practitioners about vision and reading difficulties and has a clinic for people with reading problems.
Tel: 020 7407 4183
Fax: 020 7403 8007
Email: admin@ioo.org.uk
Web: http://www.ioo.org.uk.

Local Dyslexia Associations.

Contact your Local Dyslexia Association for recommendations of suitable local practitioners.


Contact your GP for a referral to an appropriate specialist. In some hospitals the orthoptist may have expertise in this field.

University Optometry Departments.

It would be worth contacting Optometry Departments of universities to see if they offer a service of assessments.

Society for Coloured Lens Providers.

A list of recommended practitioners following an agreed code of conduct.
Web: http://www.s4clp.org

Visual Perception Unit, University of Essex.

Information on Colour in the Treatment of Visual Stress, references to practitioners and suppliers.
Tel: 01206 872 381
Web: http://www.essex.ac.uk/psychology/overlays

Aids for visual stress.

  • Monitor overlays are available in different shades and sizes which are held onto the screen by static. Available from Crossbow Education www.crossboweducation.com

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