What is Visual Stress?
Research has shown that approximately 20% of the population suffers from discomfort when looking at certain regular patterns (including rows of text). In severe cases, this can lead to photo-sensitive epilepsy, in other cases migraine, and in others just varying degrees of discomfort. This phenomenon was first recognised by a teacher in New Zealand (Olive Meares) and a psychologist in the US (Helen Irlen) so the condition became known as Irlen syndrome or Meares-Irlen syndrome. However, the more general term “Visual Stress” is now preferred.
Symptoms typically include “words appearing to move, wobble or flicker”, “shadows or colours in the text” or just general “eye strain”. This can result in a reduction in reading speed, reduced fluency or just an aversion to reading.
For reasons that are not well-understood, changing the background colour of the text has been found to reduce or, in some cases, eliminate the symptoms. While some colours seem to be chosen more than others, the colour which minimises the symptoms seems to differ between patients.
The condition can be managed by using coloured overlays (sheets of coloured overlays which are placed over the reading material) or coloured lenses.
I already use an overlay
If you already use an overlay, simply order the nearest colour from our range.
I think I may have Visual Stress
If you are experiencing the symptoms of Visual Stress, you are advised to have a full eye examination by an Optometrist before using overlays in order to rule out other possible causes. Many optometrists can test you for Visual Stress and recommend an optimum overlay colour.
If you have had a recent eye examination, you can use our images to see if reading is more comfortable with any specific colour. Overlays are not expensive and many people find that reading is more comfortable using an Overlay even if they have not been diagnosed with Meares-Irlen Syndrome.
What colours are available
We offer 5 overlays in a pack in a range of 12 colours, names A-L
PLEASE NOTE: DUE TO DIFFERENCE IN THE COLOUR REPRODUCTION OF DIFFERENT MONITORS, THE COLOUR OF THE OVERLAYS MAY DIFFER SLIGHTLY FROM THE COLOURS SHOWN BELOW.