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Coloured Lenses

Many people do not realise that there are some eye conditions which can be improved by the use of specifically coloured lenses.

Commonly coloured lenses are prescribed to help a conditions such as Meares-Irlen syndrome, photosensitive migraine and photosensitive epilepsy.

What is Meares-Irlen syndrome?

Meares-Irlen syndrome (MIS) is characterised by symptoms of visual stress and visual perceptual distortions when looking at patterns, particularly stripes or lines of text. This problem is also known as pattern glare sensitivity and visual stress. Such symptoms can occur despite normal vision. For those who have symptoms of MIS, pages of print can resemble a visually stressful pattern making it uncomfortable to look at.

Symptoms of MIS are not always immediately obvious. Many individuals who suffer from MIS assume that their symptoms are quite “normal”.

Visual perceptual problems which affect reading skills can also be caused by this condition. MIS is found to exist in many neurological conditions including photosensitive migraine, photosensitive epilepsy, MS, Parkinsons, dyslexia, and autism.

Visual stress caused by MIS is NOT the same as dyslexia but is more common in those who are dyslexic.

symptoms and signs

Symptoms of MIS include:

  • Movement of print
  • Blurring of print
  • Letters changing size or shape
  • Letters fading or becoming darker
  • Patterns in the print (sometimes described as rivers or worms)
  • Illusions of colour surrounding letters or words
  • Tiring easily while reading
  • Red, sore, watery eyes
  • Headaches or visual discomfort

Signs of MIS include:

  • Moving closer to or further away from the book
  • Restlessness while reading
  • Using finger to track words while reading
  • Skipping words or lines
  • Re-reading the same line
  • Rubbing eyes or blinking frequently while reading
  • Poor comprehension of reading content
  • Frustration and low self-esteem

Symptoms of MIS are not always immediately obvious. Many individuals who suffer from MIS assume that their symptoms are quite “normal”.

One current explanation for Pattern glare visual stress is that the visual processing of high contrast patterns of lines is unstable. It can be affected by medication, anxiety and neurological problems like migraine and epilepsy. The instability of being able to comfortably look at high contrast patterns can sometimes be improved by the use of a specifically selected coloured filter. This is assessed with the use of a specialised instrument called the Intuitive Colorimeter which was originally developed by Professor Arnold Wilkins and the Medical Research Council, UK. It is fully supported by research studies and controlled trials. The assessment commonly takes around 30 minutes to complete. Once determined, the exact colour tint (hue, saturation and brightness) can be incorporated in a pair of glasses that also includes the required spectacle lens power.

For scientific references see here.