Vision – Eye Related Therapies - Help, Support & Resources

Dyslexia and Visual Problems

Visual Problems – Help, Support and Resources for people with Dyslexia & other Learning Disabilities.

Visual problems are one of the most common causes of disability in the world.

The Optical Information Council has estimated that one child in five may have undetected visual problems.


Visual Problems Introduction
Regular eye tests using new techniques may prevent children with learning difficulties, from being labelled problem children and would enable children to be identified at a much earlier age. It is imperative that these tests are carried out before the child starts to fail, as the damage caused to their self-esteem is very difficult to restore. During the last decade there has been a wealth of studies to show that children with undiagnosed eye problems often have learning difficulties. It stands to reason if a child cannot see properly they will not be able to read, spell and write.

There are a significant number of related therapies with different types of tests to help you. These range from vision training, to working with computers, or ‘putting a hat on a donkey’ (Dunlop Test).


I have included a short Vision Checklist in the first instance, just to help identify if the child actually does have an eye problem.

If your child has more than a few of the signs or symptoms listed, it would be advisable to make an appointment with an orthoptist (optician) before investigating further eye related therapies.

Vision Checklist

When reading does your child:

• Hold the book a few inches from his face?
• Close one eye in order to see better?
• Skip over or omit words?
• Use a finger or bookmark to help keep his place?
• Complain of blurred vision?
• Reverse letters or numbers?
• Complain of print ‘running together’?
• Complain of words ‘wobbling about’?
• Double vision?
• Complain of headaches?
• Excessively run or blink his eyes?
• Frown, scowl or squint?
• Suffer from excessive tiredness after close work?

When spelling does your child:

• Spell correctly and later spell it wrong?
• Learn spellings well for tests, but then forget?
• Transpose letters in words?

When Writing – does your child:

• Write letters back to front?
• Write letters backwards in writing?

If your child has more than a few of the signs or symptoms listed, it would be advisable to make an appointment with an orthoptist (optician) before investigating further eye related therapies.

Eye Tests

Many children with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties need to have more specialist eye tests. Some of these tests can be carried out at your local opticians or at specialist eye clinics or other medical centres.

Headlines like; ‘Experts hail cure for child dyslexia’ and ‘Dyslexia: A miracle Cure’ have appeared in many national newspapers over the years. And they have all been talking about the wonderful success being achieved by scores of dyslexic students.

The remarkable achievements have occurred after being prescribed vision training or tinted glasses. However, a word of caution, whilst ‘tinted glasses’ or similar may work for some children it does not work for everyone.

The pages below will show you the wide range of tests available which can point you in the right direction.

Coloured Overlays

Coloured Overlays appear to help people with dyslexia, and other Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD’s). Student’s have said they have found it easier to read more fluently and quicker when using these Coloured Overlays.

What are Coloured Overlays?

Coloured Overlays are clear coloured plastic sheets that can be placed over a page in a book. They work by reducing the visual perceptual distortions of text. Some dyslexic students say when reading, the words go:

• Fuzzy
• Jump about
• Blurry 
• Swirl and/or
• Form Patterns.

Student’s who would like to try these coloured overlays can have a short assessment to find out the colour that is best for them, and if they find them successful, they can have a Colorimetry test, to find out the exact tint needed. Once this is completed, ‘tinted glasses’ can be made for them; which will enable the student to use them for other tasks.

In the UK, some schools can carry out the Coloured Overlay assessment.

‘Meares-Irlen Syndrome’

These signs are characteristic of a condition that is called ‘Meares-Irlen Syndrome’ or ‘Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome’, named after Olive Meares who invented them.

Research carried out by Irlen and Lass, in 1989, claimed that 50% of dyslexics have a perceptual dysfunction that can be treated with tinted lenses’ and another study by Wilkins et al., 1994, showed a positive effect on symptoms reported by some children.

Colorimetry Testing

These specialist eye tests can be carried out at Vision Training and Colorimetry Clinics.

Eye Examination

It is usually advisable to have a full eye examination when being assessed as this can often reveal other previously undiagnosed visual problems.

Disability Student Allowance (DSA)

If students are eligible for Disability Student Allowance, they can claim up to £275 towards the purchase of glasses.

Specialist Opticians

Specialist Opticians in the Swindon area, who use the Colorimeter, include:

Haine & Smith Opticians

Haine & Smith Opticians
Regent Street

Irlen Syndrome

Double Vision Irlen Syndrome is thought to affect about 50% of students with specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia.

It was in 1983 that an American psychologist Helen Irlen discovered a perceptual problem caused by light sensitivity.

Irlen found that some students benefited from the use of coloured overlays. The overlays seemed to work by filtering out light that caused distortions to print. The problems appeared to be worse with black print on white paper.

You may benefit from glasses or lenses if when reading you find:

* letters merge together
* letters appearing in the wrong order
* twirling letters
* words are fuzzy
* words jump about
* difficulties in reading and keeping your place
* excessive rubbing and blinking of eyes
* words appear as a jumbled puzzle
* words appear faded

Have a look at this excellent video by Irlen Syndrome on YouTube.

Dyslexia and the Intuitive Colorimeter

Intuitive Colorimeter and Dyslexia

Some people find when they use colour in their glasses they have been able to read easier. These glasses are made with the help of the Intuitive Colorimeter and help people with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties.

The Intuitive Colorimeter uses up to 7,000 tints to measure exactly which colour helps individual students.

Scientists do not know exactly how this technique works but they believe that the area in the brain that controls vision is very sensitive and some text may over-excite the colour neurones resulting in text being distorted. It appears that the coloured lenses, filter out light, helping to correct the problem.

Students who appear to benefit most from these lenses are students who find that words and letters tend to; be jumbled up, move around, wobbles and appear in the wrong order. Some students with dyslexia and/or specific learning difficulties have most of the following symptoms others may only have one. Mostly, students do not realise it is a problem as they have always seen writing in the same way.

Research has shown that if a child uses coloured overlays his reading speed increases and he has fewer headaches.

The full screening test using the Intuitive Colorimeter is available through participating opticians.

You can find out further information on this test by going to Cerium Vistech.

You can find a someone in your area (Country), by going to: Cerium Visual Technologies and clicking on the area / Country you require.


Some students with dyslexia say that when they wear special contact lenses that have a tiny speck of colour in the contact lenses they have been able to read easier. These contact lenses are made with the help of the Intuitive Colorimeter and help people with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties.

ChromaGen Lenses were developed at the Corneal Laser Centre for colour blindness at Clattersbridge Hospital, Wirral. The Lens is similar to ordinary soft contact lenses, but has a tiny speck of colour that is almost invisible.

*Research published a few years ago, confirm that the ChromaGen system produces a highly significant effect, with an average increase in overall reading speed of 24%.

The ChromaGen system of lenses was awarded ‘Millennium Product’ status to recognise forward thinking, challenging, creative and innovative products.

The screening test using the GhromaGen system is available through participating opticians.

For further information on ChromaGen lenses contact Ultralase.

*ChromaGen-Ultralase – 4/4/00.

Harris Filters

In 1996, David Harris invented the lenses that are now marketed by a contact lens manufacturer, as ChromaGen lenses. This product proved highly successful.

Harris continued to work in this area and went on to develop the lenses that are now used (‘Harris Filters’) which mean that he no longer needs to use ChromaGen lenses with dyslexics.

What are Harris Filters?

The majority of dyslexics have nerve fibres that transmit important information inefficiently between the eyes and the brain. This can result in poor control of eye movements and therefore increased difficulty with reading and understanding, loss of place on the line of text (sometimes with a line being repeatedly read because of inaccurate tracking) and poorer comprehension. Harris Filters are an advanced version of David Harris’ award-winning range of special lenses that reduce or eliminate visual perceptual distortions, a condition that affects reading ability in almost 74% of dyslexia sufferers.

Harris Dyslexia Website Sept ‘05.

Harris Filters can’t make dyslexia completely disappear from an individual but it is claimed, they can help to improve performance and make reading easier.

Harris Filters can be found at: The Harris Foundation.

Visual Tracking Magnifier (VTM)

Ian Jordan developed The Visual tracking

VTM - Help with Dyslexia

VTM – Help with Dyslexia

Magnifier (VTM) after years of research. The Visual Tracking Magnifier is an optical device, which was awarded ‘Millennium Product Status’ by the Design Council.

The VTM’s aid people with dyslexia or similar reading problems difficulties, including Macular Degeneration and Ocular Atrophy.

Dunlop Test

The ‘Dunlop Test was designed in 1971 by Mrs P Dunlop, an orthoptist to ascertain whether a child has a fixed reference eye. Dunlop believed if the reference eye is not established, this could lead to Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD’s), such as dyslexia.

The ‘Dunlop Test has been found to be helpful when it has been used on children with dyslexia or other Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD’s).

If your child has an eye problem, s/he may be referred to an eye clinic. An orthoptist will assess their binocular vision to see how their eyes work together and to make sure one eye is dominant.

Children usually have a fixed reference eye by the time they are seven. If treatment is necessary, glasses with one side frosted, or eye exercises may be prescribed.

In the UK, this test is available on the NHS; your doctor will be able to refer you to your nearest orthoptic department. Please note this test is not available throughout the UK.

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