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Visual stress resource centre Reading with visual stress

What is Visual Stress?

Visual stress describes the discomfort some people feel when viewing text on a page of print or on a screen: sometimes after ten or fifteen minutes; sometimes immediately.

Visual Stress Symptoms

head-in-handsSymptoms vary, but can include headaches and migraines (especially when working at the computer), sore eyes and eyestrain, and words or letters blurring or appearing to "jump" or move on the page. A further symptom can be what is known as "pattern glare", where white "rivers" or "worms" seem to run down the page. One seven-year old commented, after using a blue reading ruler: "The page used to look crinkly; now it's soft".

Visual stress can also cause fatigue and nausea when reading, and is a common, and often undiagnosed cause of educational failure and under-achievement.

Diagnosing Visual Stress

Visual stress may often go un-diagnosed or simply dismissed as part of everyday life. If you frequently experience any of the symptoms above, you may be suffering from visual stress - this can occur on printed materials or on a computer screen.

Reducing the symptoms

There is no cure for visual stress, but some simple measures have proven very effective for reducing the symptoms. The most common method of reducing the symptoms of visual stress is the placing of a coloured 'overlay' over the material you are reading. This small change can make a world of difference.

Our article repository describes in further detail the benefits using a coloured overlay may have. Within the members section of this portal (which is free to subscribe to) we have developed an online assessment tool, which whilst not as good as performing a test in real life may help you in deciding if a coloured overlay may help you.

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