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Dyslexia Awareness Week 2018

Next week is Dyslexia Awareness Week (DAW)

It will take place from Monday 1st to Sunday 7th of October 2018, with World Dyslexia Awareness Day being celebrated on Thursday 4th October.

With this in mind, we thought what better opportunity for us to mention our Visual Stress Assessment Service.

If you are a teacher or learning support specialist, you will know that solving undiagnosed reading difficulties can be time-consuming and often frustrating. Especially when conventional therapies fail to yield the results you had hoped for. Maybe you are a concerned parent with a child who is struggling with their reading. It is very easy to assume that your child or young adult is simply dyslexic, but are they?

There has been much research, producing a good amount of evidence that suggests that some children, young people and even adults, may be experiencing some form of visual disturbance, caused by the way their brain processes visual information while they read.

Symptoms include;

  • Losing track while reading
  • Becoming very tired
  • Showing fear or reluctance to read

Over recent decades a form of Therapeutic Optometry known as Colorimetry has been developed to offer relief with some undiagnosed reading difficulties.

What is Visual Stress

Visual Stress is a term used to describe visual discomfort and perceptual distortions when looking at stressful patterns. Symptoms can be experienced in varying degrees from simple fatigue when reading, to an inability to look at text.

Cirium Precision tinted lenses at Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham

Visual stress (Meares-Irlen syndrome), coloured overlays and colorimetry.

Children and adults can both suffer from visual discomfort when reading. It is estimated that approximately 5% of the population are severely affected by Visual Stress. A further 20% to a lesser degree. Visual Stress can affect reading fluency, concentration and comprehension often causing rapid fatigue. Symptoms of  Visual Stress can cause the apparent movement of print, the appearance of rivers running through the print and headaches /eye strain.

Visual stress is found to exist in many conditions including:

  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Photosensitive Migraine
  • Photosensitive Epilepsy
  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Head Injuries
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Assessment for the relief of visual stress

This is a three-step process and begins with a thorough eye test and vision assessment to check for possible causes of headaches or difficulties with reading.

Our optometrist will carry out a series of tests to check for any visual or eye health problems.  This can help to rule out any other causes of symptoms such as needing spectacles, or a binocular vision (eye muscle) problem.  

Our optometrist will also look at the eye in detail to make sure it is healthy.  This part is essential even if a recent eye examination has been carried out elsewhere as it contains tests that may have not been performed as part of the standard eye examination.

The overlay assessment.

This appointment is usually carried out by a dispensing optician or optometrist.  We have a range of overlays (coloured perspex sheets) to try. Each sheet is tried in turn to determine which gives the most comfortable and effective rate of reading.  We measure the reading speed with and without the overlays in place to see if any benefit is obtained.

overlays and visual stress assessment at Allegro Optical Meltham Holmfirth HuddersfieldIf it is felt appropriate to check for Visual Stress then the first part of the assessment will take approximately 30 minutes and in part consists of testing with optimum coloured overlays which, when placed over a page of text, can often lead to improved reading rate and accuracy.

Once an overlay is prescribed we advise using it both in the classroom or workplace and at home during the ensuing weeks. If improvements are noticed and sustained a further test using the Intuitive Colorimeter® is advised, when the optimal colour may be identified.

Colorimetry assessment

Developed in partnership with the University of Essex and Professor Arnold Wilkins, the colourimeter embodies cutting-edge technology.  Provide an innovative digital solution allowing the parameters of hue, saturation and brightness to be explored systematically.

The Colorimetry assessment will take approximately one hour, it is carried out by a fully qualified optician or optometrist. You will be asked to look into the Intuitive Colorimeter and shown different colour filters to determine which colour reduces disturbances in the text. Young children may wish to bring a favourite book along with them.

Colorimeter overlays and visual stress assessment at Allegro Optical Meltham Holmfirth Huddersfield

On completion of the assessment, the Optician or Optometrist will interpret the results and spend time with you to discuss the next course of action. If a precision tint is found to help, we will then advise you on the suitable frame selection to complement the coloured lenses and take the necessary measurements for a pair of spectacles to be produced.

Visual stress is NOT the same as dyslexia but it is more common in those who are dyslexic. People who fail to read because of visual stress are often mis-diagnosed as dyslexic. For this reason, it is important that the existence of visual stress is identified at an early stage. Once visual stress has been alleviated, any remaining problems are much easier to solve.

Visual Stress and Migraine

A migraine is a particularly acute form of a headache, and sufferers often experience unbearable pain during an attack. A significant proportion of migraines are induced by visual stress.

For anyone with visual stress-related migraines, relief can sometimes be achieved by looking at particular colours. Lights and visual patterns can cause incredibly painful headaches and can result in a condition called photophobia. Migraines can become so stressful and unbearable that sufferers will do anything to get away from whatever bright lights and coloured patterns induce the symptoms.

Colorimeter overlays and visual stress assessment at Allegro Optical Meltham Holmfirth Huddersfield

The good news for Huddersfield based sufferers is that Allegro Optical has the expertise and ability to provide painless relief for visual stress-related migraines. We use Cerium optical tinted lenses to reduce the symptoms of visual stress. Some of our migraine clients wear spectacles with lens tints calibrated by intuitive colourimetry. Generally, our customers who have used these glasses report a near-total drop in the number and frequency of migraines.

If you or your child would like a visual stress assessment, a full eye examination, including extra tests to check the binocular vision status of the eyes is the first stage of a three-state investigation.  

Please call Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham, near Huddersfield and Holmfirth on 01484 907090 for more information.