How to Minimize Visual Stress


A few weeks back I attended a training course about “Visual Stress Assessment” in Al Raha International School. Some new interesting facts were given to us whom I would like to share with you today. This might help teachers or parents to identify children who might have difficulty reading due to visual stress factors. Visual Stress is often mistaken for Dyslexia and steps can be taken to minimize the effects of eye strain.

What is Visual Stress Assessment?

Visual stress describes the discomfort some people feel when looking at text for long periods. Symptoms vary, but can include headaches and migraines (especially when working at the computer), eyestrain, and words or letters appearing to “jump” or move on the page. Research has shown that around 20% of the population suffer, to varying degrees, from visual stress. Reading through an overlay of the right colour can reduce the symptoms or remove them altogether.


What can help?

The type of lighting read under can also have drastic effects. Sometimes, reading under fluorescent strip lights (as are often seen in classrooms) can cause discomfort, because they flicker and do not produce a steady, constant, level of light.

The best light to read under is daylight, out of direct sunlight. Next is the classic filament bulb, followed by the energy saving halogen bulb, which although they aren’t as bad as the strip lights, do still flicker slightly. Ask to sit near a window if you can.

Reading rulers, are small tinted strips with tracking lines on them. Laying them over the print to be read can stop eye strain and words jumping around, making reading an enjoyable experience.

Monitor overlays, can change the background colour in your windows preferences, but you can’t change the background colour of a web page, such as “Google” page illustrated.

Page Overlays, full sized coloured overlays can be useful; in an exam or revision, and research where you are glancing around the page and going back and forth to the same page. It can just be left in place over the whole page.

Contributed by: Maria Margossian

Primary SEND Teacher


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