Visual Stress (also known as Meares-Irlen Syndrome)

Imagine looking at someone’s tie or shirt, which happens to be very stripey with black and white lines – you may see movement or distortion that you know is not really there – right? That is visual stress. The same thing happens to some people when they look at black text on white paper, to varying degrees. It is thought that the ‘stripy’ effect of the lines of print causes similar disturbances in the vision when reading. It is thought to be caused by hyper-excitability in the part of the brain known as the visual cortex.

It affects approximately 20% of the population, and 5% are severely affected. This can affect reading fluency, concentration and comprehension, and it can lead to eye strain or fatigue.

Sometimes children experience this and never think to mention it… they just assume it’s normal!

Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that mainly affects the skills involved in learning to read. However, despite being classed as a learning difficulty, there is no connection between dyslexia and intelligence. In fact, dyslexic people are often particularly creative and excellent problem solvers.

What can we do to help?

If you are dyslexic or have visual stress, you have an increased likelihood of also having eye co-ordination or visual processing issues.

Director, Roisin Brogan has a special interest in Dyslexia. During an eye examination she can assess your eye co-ordination and then advise whether you would be a suitable candidate for Vision Therapy or Coloured Overlays / Tinted lenses.

Vision Therapy

Whether a child needs glasses or not, eye co-ordination and the visual system can be trained to work more efficiently. This leads to an increased capacity for learning….

When a child is struggling to focus with their two eyes efficiently, much of their concentration goes into reading the words on the page so they have little remaining capacity for taking in the meaning of the text. The same thing applies when they are slow to copy from the board: they aren’t able to simultaneously listen to the teacher talking at the same time.

During Vision Therapy we train them how to use their visual system more efficiently so that these common everyday tasks become easy, and so their capacity to learn increases.

Coloured Overlays & Tints

It is not fully understood why, but coloured overlays or tinted lenses may reduce eye strain and increase reading speed for some people with Visual Stress.

A ‘Cerium’ overlay assessment enables you to select one of 12 coloured overlays– transparent, coloured sheets–to take home and try. If you find that the overlay makes reading and writing more comfortable for you, then you are recommended to have a colourimetry assessment.

A colourimetry assessment is quick (around 20 minutes) and painless. During the test, you will be asked to view a paragraph of text whilst the colourimeter places the full spectrum of colours over it. The aim of this exercise is to establish the exact colour that is suitable for you, before being sent to our lab and incorporated into your spectacle lenses.

Please note: Cerium tints have also proven effective for some migraine sufferers.

Learn more about Vision Therapy

If you would like to speak to a member of our team about Vision Therapy, or to register your interest in the treatment, simplycall your nearest Brogans branch. Alternatively, to find out more about behavioural optometry, visit the official website at

Lisburn Office

028 9260 2020

Ballynahinch Office

028 9260 2020