Children & Teens

NHS eye tests

We make our eye examination child friendly with pictures instead of letters for very small children. There are several tests specifically checking a child’s visual development such as 3-D vision. We recommend children should have at least one eye examination before the age of 5 and younger if there is any family history of vision or eye problems.

If glasses are needed we have over 300 frames just for youngsters in stock including sports specific frames and we are very happy to fit contact lenses as soon as your child seems ready.

All children under 16 are eligible for an NHS sight test.


Dyslexia and visual stress

Visual stress (sometimes called ‘Meares-Irlen Syndrome’ or ‘Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome’) is the experience of unpleasant visual symptoms when reading, especially for prolonged periods. Symptoms include illusions of shape, movement and colour in the text, distortions of the print, loss of print clarity, and general visual irritation. Visual stress can also cause sore eyes, headaches, frequent loss of place when reading, and impaired comprehension.

Visual stress is caused by the striped effect of black writing on white paper which causes over stimulation and excitation of the visual cortex Visual stress can have an adverse effect on the development of reading skills, especially reading fluency – i.e. the ability to recognise words quickly and to read longer passages of text in a smooth and efficient way so that good comprehension is maintained. Visual stress makes reading an unpleasant and irritating activity that children will tend to avoid as much as possible. Research has shown that 15 – 20% of people suffer visual stress to some extent, and they also tend to be hypersensitive to fluorescent lighting and flicker on computer monitors.

The condition of visual stress was first discovered independently by Olive Meares, a teacher in New Zealand, in 1980, and by Helen Irlen, a psychologist in the United States in 1983.

They did not use the term ‘visual stress’, but they recognized that the problem contributed significantly to reading difficulties and that coloured overlays can help to overcome the unpleasant symptoms.

The use of tinted lenses or coloured overlays to treat visual stress was formerly regarded with scepticism by the medical and education professions. However, scientific studies in the 1990s by Professor Arnold Wilkins of the University of Essex have shown that this treatment is generally the most effective and simplest solution.

For more information on research by Professor Arnold Wilkins on visual stress visit: or consult: ‘Reading Through Colour: How Coloured Filters Can Reduce Reading Difficulty, Eye Strain, and Headaches’ by Arnold Wilkins. Wiley, 2003. ISBN: 0- 470-85116-3.

Coloured overlays for dyslexia

Coloured overlays are transparent sheets of coloured plastic that can be placed over a page or a book so as to colour the text without affecting its clarity. The colour reduces the perceptual distortions of text that children sometimes describe. They enable some children to read more fluently, with less discomfort and fewer symptoms of visual stress. We have a computerised text to enable us to identify the correct overlay for your child.

Coloured lenses for dyslexia

If the coloured overlay is proving effective then spectacles with coloured lenses can be prescribed. The coloured lenses may be a different colour from the optimal coloured overlay so we test for the lens colour using a different computerised test.