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Coloured Lenses and Dyslexia

At Kite Opticians we are specialists in reading difficulty assessments including colour overlay and colorimetry testing. Adrian Kite is a member of the Society for Coloured Lens Prescribers and is a member of the International Institute of Colorimetry. He has extensive experience in assessing children at Ipswich Hospital.

Visual Stress (also known as ‘Meares-Irlen syndrome’) is a sensitivity to visual patterns that can cause visual perception problems that interfere with reading. The symptoms can occur despite normal vision.

Dyslexia is a term used to refer to reading problems and is often associated with spelling difficulty.

Visual Stress is not the same as dyslexia but it is more common in those who have dyslexia. Once Visual Stress has been treated, the remaining problems are more easily dealt with. Visual Stress can occur in those who don’t have dyslexia. Symptoms may become more apparent when intensive reading is necessary. Individuals suffering from Visual Stress can be helped with their reading difficulties by the use of colour tinted lenses.

Those most likely to benefit from coloured lenses will often show some of the following symptoms:

  • Print appears to be blurred, moving, flickering or fading
  • Appearance of patterns in the print (“rivers” or “worms”)
  • Headaches during or after reading
  • Watery, sore or red eyes
  • Rubs eyes or blinks frequently when reading
  • A tendency to fidget when reading
  • Using a finger to follow a line of text
  • A marked sensitivity to light (photophobia)

Overlay testing

For those suffering from dyslexia or visual stress the initial assessment involves a special series of plastic overlays, to determine the effect of the colour on reading performance. This enables us to see if significant improvements in speed of reading can be made by the use of colour. The special testing required for tinted lenses, using an instrument called a Colorimeter, is recommended where reading speed and accuracy have been improved with a coloured overlay.

Photosensitive Migraines

Migraine attacks have many triggers, including stress. About 40% of migraine attacks may be visually induced by flickering light, patterns or reading. These attacks may be reduced by the use of precision tinted lenses.


The colorimeter is the only instrument authenticated by the Medical Research Council in Cambridge for the testing/diagnosing of visual stress.

To assess the optimum tint, colours need to be presented sequentially and in a short space of time to the patient. The colorimeter is the only instrument that does this.

Double blind trials have been conducted and various published research data is available regarding the use of the colorimeter and visual stress.

The cost of overlay assessments and colorimetry are not covered by the NHS.

Further information is available from these links:
How to get assessed
About overlays
Society for Coloured Lens Prescribers

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38 Berners Street, Ipswich

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