East Kilbride: 01355 247581


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

Signs & Symptoms

  • 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
  • Headache or eyestrain
  • Rapid tiring
  • 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

When we look at someone wearing a very stripy shirt it may feel uncomfortable for us to look at and it may “make our eyes go funny”. This effect can be seen by many individuals who look at print as this is often a “stripy pattern”.

child having their eyes tested for visual stress

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

What We Offer

Full comprehensive eye exam

This will identify any visual or binocular issues that need to be addressed.

The Wilkins Rate of Reading test

The Wilkins Rate of Reading Test was designed to objectively measure the benefits obtained by individuals who suffer with Visual Stree, viewing text through Coloured Overlays.

The test uses simple words, familiar to young children. The words appear in each line of a block of text but in a random order as we are not assessing the child’s comprehension skills but purely the reading speed. This test only lasts for around 15 minutes and if a significant improvement is achieved, the chosen overlay will be given for a period of 12 weeks to see if the improvement is continued. A follow-up appointment will be arranged for 6 weeks after the initial assessment to check the progress. If after 12 weeks the improvement has continued, then Intuitive Colorimetery will be offered.

Intuitive Colorimeter

This instrument was developed by Professor Arnold Wilkins and the Medical Research Council and manufactured exclusively by CVT and is fully supported by research studies and peer reviewed controlled trials.

The instrument independently changes the 3 parameters of colour, hue, saturation and brightness while the eyes are colour adapted. This will give a final colour which is extremely precise to each individual’s needs. The colour will be different for each person and the precision coming from a choice of over 100,000 colour combinations now available. In its most effective form this prescription will be delivered as Precision Tinted Lenses.

The tint is selected rapidly and efficiently in an examination lasting about 20-30 minutes.

The optimal colour can also be available with soft Contact Lenses.


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 come 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.

It is therefore important that overlays should not be reserved only for those pupils who have been “statemented” or identified as being in need of specific help. They should be available to any child who does not naturally like to look at books.

Looking to have your eyes or hearing tested? Book an appointment using our online booking system.