Visual Stress

Visual Stress

Many children and adults suffer from visual discomfort and perceptual distortions when reading. This can affect reading fluency, concentration and comprehension, and can cause rapid fatigue. This is known as Visual Stress.

The condition is estimated to affect approximately 30% of poor readers and 10% of the general population to a significant degree.

Dyslexic individuals are more likely to experience visual stress than others, although it is distinct from dyslexia and the phonological difficulties with which dyslexia is usually associated.

Many thousands of individuals who find reading difficult, unknowingly experience visual stress. They have to work harder than their peers to achieve the same outcomes, often with extra tuition. Others may never find reading a comfortable experience but only realise they have the condition when presented with a volume of reading, for instance at exam time.

Visual stress can co-exist with more complex learning difficulties (including dyslexia), but if it is remedied, the remaining learning problems may be more easily dealt with.

Symptoms of Visual Stress

  • glare from the page
  • headaches when reading
  • eyestrain and tiredness when reading
  • movement or blurring of print


  • rubbing eyes frequently
  • red, sore or watery eyes whilst reading
  • excessive blinking
  • poor concentration
  • hesitant and inefficient reading
  • skips words and/or lines
  • frequently looks away from the page or turns the book around

For anyone who is having problems reading, it is essential that they have an eye examination first, to ensure that their eyes are healthy and working correctly. Some symptoms can be caused by physical defects in the eye.

However, as the condition isn’t widely publicised, the solution can easily be missed without proper testing. Clarity Colorimetry can help those experiencing such symptoms through a simple colorimetry assessment either at our centre in Hethersett or at the Indigo Dyslexia Centre in Norwich.