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.
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 and can include:
- movement of print
- fading 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 the page
- becoming restless when reading
- using finger as a marker
- skipping words and lines
- rubbing eyes and blinking excessively
- low self esteem
Dyslexia is a term used to refer to a number of complex specific learning difficulties that often also include problems with reading and spelling.
Dyslexia is really about information processing: dyslexic people may have difficulty processing and remembering information they see and hear. This can affect learning and the acquisition of literacy skills. British Dyslexia Association
Visual Stress often runs concurrently with dyslexia, and it has been established that there is a far greater propensity amongst the dyslexic population to suffer from Visual Stress.
It is sensible to ensure that anyone who struggles to read or who shows or reports visual discomfort when looking at a book, should be offered testing with a coloured overlay.