Meares-Irlen Syndrome (Visual Stress)



This is a condition which affects the way the brain processes visual information, such as colour, contrast and glare.  Research has shown that it may affect approximately 20% of the general population, and 5% will be significantly affected. Sometimes it is associated with other conditions such as, migraine or dyslexia, but it can also occur in isolation.

Meares-Irlen Syndrome, also known as visual stress, can affect people in a variety of different ways.  People may experience some of the following symptoms in varying degrees:

  • Problems tracking text and losing their place when reading
  • See patterns in text or print distorts or blurs
  • Find white paper too bright or experience glare when reading
  • Difficulty reading for long periods
  • Experience headaches or tiredness when reading
  • Sensitive to bright lights, sunlight and glare.

How is it Assessed?

Ability Smart's psychologists and assessors can carry out a preliminary screening for this condition.  It is recommended that people who display symptoms are referred on to a Behavioural Optometrist for a more detailed eye examination. 

The Ability Smart screening assessment involves:

  • Comprehensive structured screening interview
  • Behavioural observation of performance on reading and practical tasks
  • Colourimeter assessment (Wilkins Rate of Reading) or assessment of the benefits of using coloured overlays.

What Solutions are Available?

Ability Smart delivers a wide range of tailored interventions for adults in the workplace who have been diagnosed with Meares-Irlen Syndrome.  These include one-to-one Support Training to provide advice and guidance on:

  • Reading strategies;
  • Lighting and adjustments to print size and layout;
  • Use of coloured paper, coloured overlays and reading rulers;
  • Adjustments to computer monitor settings and the use of specialist software to change the background and text colour;
  • Referral to a Behavioural Optometrist for a more detailed assessment.  It is sometimes useful for people to wear tinted spectacles.  A full eye test is also appropriate to check for other visual problems associated with this condition. 

Ability Smart believe that, with the appropriate adjustments put in place, an adult's true potential can really be unlocked.

To learn more about the solutions offered by Ability Smart, click here.

Find out More!

To enquire about the services offered by Ability Smart, contact the team by clicking here.