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Visual Stress

Help with undiagnosed reading difficulties

When everything else has been tried, issues with reading can sometimes be helped by using a coloured overlay sheet or spectacles with a special precision tint.

Whether you are a parent, 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.

It is often assumed it is simply dyslexia, but is it?

There is an increasing body of evidence that suggests young children, teenagers and even adults may be experiencing a form of visual disturbance caused by the way their brain processes visual information when they read.

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

In the last 30 years, a form of Therapeutic Optometry known as Colorimetry has been developed to offer relief with some undiagnosed reading difficulties.


We generally prefer to see patients that are informally referred to us by an education or learning support specialist after all other avenues have been explored. This ensures assessments are not used as an alternative to traditionally accepted solutions but rather as an additional supplement.  We also accept adult self-referrals.  

For more details of symptoms click here

The Eye Examination

Due to the complexity of our visual system, there are many minor disorders and conditions that may affect a patient’s vision and present similar systems.   These must firstly be ruled out with any refractive error (prescription) also determined prior to assessment.  

For the process involved click here

Reading speed

The main technique used in Colorimetry is to measure the speed quickly and efficiently using the Wilkins Rate of Reading Test, in which randomly ordered common words are read aloud for one minute with and without colorimetry assistance. Although an immediate improvement in ready speed can indicate a benefit from colorimetry, the clinician is also looking at other indicators such as improved comprehension, ease in tracking line changes and ability to maintain their place on the page.

Coloured overlays

The first step into colorimetry is with the use of coloured overlay sheets.  These provide an easy an easy and affordable early indication of any likely benefit. This is a separate appointment to the Eye Examination.


Once coloured overlays have proven beneficial, a more detailed assessment using the Intuitive Colorimeter is recommended. This utilises the same Rate of Reading Test but builds on the initial overlay result; for example, a light green or dark green overlay sheet, by further defining the precise hue and saturation of colour required.  By fine-tuning the colour specifically to the individual its effectiveness is greatly improved.


The Intuitive Colorimeter assessment produces a unique and highly accurate pure precision tint specification that can be applied to ophthalmic quality spectacle lenses.  The resulting colorimetry spectacles offer a far more convenient solution for long term use, with the added advantage of any prescribed prescription also being incorporated into the lenses.

Fees and charges

Despite submissions from our profession, the NHS do not offer support towards colorimetry.  The provision of these services is therefore offered strictly on a private basis.  National institutions like Student Finance England can provide financial assistance for assessments and colorimetry spectacles to university students that qualify for additional learning support.  Some local schools and collages may also help with fees and charges.   

For our pricing information click here



Overlay Examples

Take a look at some overlay examples here