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Dyslexia and Specific Learning Difficulties


There are certain visual conditions that are much more common in people with Dyslexia and Specific Reading Difficulties than in the general population. These conditions are not the cause of the dyslexia or the reading difficulties but if untreated they will make reading even more difficult and uncomfortable.

  • Visual Stress or Meares-Irlen Syndrome, where various distortions and symptoms of discomfort are experienced when reading passages of text and looking at certain striped patterns. These can be reduced by using coloured overlays, (transparent plastic sheets placed on the page to alter the background colour,) or coloured spectacles. The colour required is specific to each individual and has to be selected carefully. It may change over time.
  • Problems co-ordinating the two eyes, focussing close up and changing focus from distant to near objects. These can usually be treated with simple exercises, although occasionally “exercise” spectacles may be necessary.

Our “Special Investigation” is a series of tests designed to look for and investigate these conditions so we are able to issue the best individual advice. Where appropriate it will include a coloured overlay assessment.

What happens after the Special Investigation?

Where eye exercises are found to be necessary these will be discussed. They will then normally be practised at home for a short period before being reviewed.

If an overlay of a particular colour is found to make reading easier it can be taken away to be used wherever appropriate, (e.g.home, school, college, work.) Once coloured overlays have been confirmed to be helpful, (and for children a trial over a school term is normally recommended,) the next stage is often assessment for coloured spectacles using an instrument called the Intuitive Colorimeter. Some patients however may be happy to continue using overlays. A written report will also be provided, explaining the results of the tests we have carried out and our recommendations.

Where exercises are found to be necessary there may be small additional charges involved which will be discussed with you.

What should I do next?

Contact the Houghton Regis practice (Link to HR contact page) to arrange an appointment for our “Special Investigation”, (into the Visual Aspects of Dyslexia and Specific Reading Difficulties.) If you have not had a recent eye examination this will be necessary first. (Children and some adults may be able to claim NHS help with the cost of the eye examination.)

We will send you a simple questionnaire to complete and to bring along to the appointment. This is very useful as it provides us with important background information about the reading difficulties you or your child are experiencing.

We look forward to hearing from you.