Color Lenses or Overlays Could Mitigate Reading Problems

Evidence is building that color filters or lenses may be one effective tool in combating certain visual and reading difficulties.

Conditions as wide-ranging as dyslexia, dyspraxia (fine-motor dysfunction), and ADHD can make it difficult to track words on a page. For some patients, their vision wanders between lines; for others, the actual letters appear blurry, overlapped, or even moving and rippling. When this occurs in children, it can slow learning and development, and they may have trouble communicating what is wrong.

Several studies have investigated whether adding color to a page – via either glasses, tinted contact lenses or plastic overlays – can help those with reading difficulty track words more quickly and accurately. Tinting has been experimented with in the past with regard toMeares-Irlen Syndrome, which has some visual symptoms in common with the above conditions.

There is some dispute in the scientific community as to a plausible mechanism that would account for the correction. One theory is that the eyes have a hard time taking in stark, unnatural visual data such as black-and-white text, and tinting helps them process and interpret the data.

There is also argument over which colors work best and how to optimize the hue and brightness to an individual. But some experiments have shown considerable therapeutic promise, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that anecdotal evidence in individuals merits further study.

If a patient’s vision can be corrected using conventional means, those treatments are usually preferable. But if conventional corrections for normal nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and other common vision impairments still leave a patient having trouble reading, color overlays or lenses may be an avenue worth trying. While the verdict is still out, anecdotal evidence suggests that individuals may benefit from a custom tinting treatment.

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