Visual Stress

The way our brain processes what we see is very complex. 

Our brain focuses our eyes to see. Our eyes are the first thing we check when reading is a struggle, but it is far more complicated than that! 

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When reading, our eyes focus, send the messages through our corpus callosum, then onto the occipital lobe for processing. This information is then sent to the left hemisphere in our temporal lobe to be further processed, then to our frontal lobe to finish the process. 

That’s lots of traveling!

Our clinic sees many adults and children with very poor visual processing. 

These areas impact all aspects of our lives. They can cause learning delays and show up in executive functioning struggles. 1 

TDT does testing that looks into eight areas of visual processing. 2  7 of them are below. We need all of these areas to be at our age level for us to be able to read efficiently at that level. 

Visual Discrimination: The ability to see differences and similarities in shapes, patterns, and objects.

Visual Memory: The ability to recall or reproduce a number/letter/object/figure that has previously been seen for a short period of time, i.e. to remember what has been seen.

Spatial Relationships Perception: The ability to perceive the position of two or more objects in relation to oneself and to each other. It includes the ability to identify left and right on one’s own body and apply it to objects—the ability to understand direction as well as reversals.

Form Constancy Perception: The ability to identify, name and sort the same objects, shapes, and symbols despite differences in their size, shading, texture and/or position.

Visual Sequential Memory: The ability to remember and immediately recall or reproduce a sequence of objects, letters, words or other visual symbols in the order of presentation.

Figure-Ground Perception: The ability to distinguish an object/word/letter/number from the background surrounding it and maintain it in the foreground for as long as is necessary. It requires the eyes to focus on and identify specific objects/words/letters/numbers between others.

Visual Closure Perception: The ability to identify an object, shape or symbol from a visually incomplete or disorganised presentation. It includes the ability to complete incomplete parts of a picture/figure.


So what is visual stress – this is the 8th area we look into. 

Visual stress is the result of inefficient processing in the brain. So it is how the brain is actually sending the information to our visual cortex – the occipital lobe. 

The messages travel through the Corpus Callosum. (the super highway connecting the two brain hemispheres) on its journey. 3

If our brains are irritated by parts of the light spectrum, the message that is being sent will be altered or corrupted. So the message that arrives to the visual cortex is not a full one, and then by the time it gets to the frontal lobe, it is incomplete. 4

Visual stress can look like the following:

  • Skipping lines, punctuation marks or sentences
  • Jerky reading
  • Restlessness when reading
  • Sore eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Visual distortions 5 (see the footnote for a video on distortions) 
  • Sick tummies or car sickness
  • Looking away from the text
  • Uses a finger to track
  • Slow reading


TDT has been able to change the lives of our clients through our customised therapies where we have been able to achieve 50% improvement in visual processing. That means our clients remember where they left things, can find things amongst lots of other visual information, finding moving objects quicker and reading improves.  Some clients go on to wear coloured lenses; others use coloured overlays or tinted backgrounds on their computer screens.


We do this through our customised therapy programs that are not time-consuming or more of the same – like practising reading or memory games, we do it through improving how the brain is processing the information. 


Check out these glasses and the improvement in processing seen through the lightening of the lens combinations in these glasses from 7 and quite a dark lens combination to 3 and very light, subtle lens combination. These results were achieved after neuroplasticity therapy had been undertaken.  The client initially presented with severe migraines, wore sunglasses all the time and had reading comprehension struggles. Other symptoms included anxiety and the need to re-read information for meaning, tracking difficulties, focusing battles, and movement of words on the page.


Improvements for the client included the removal of migraines from daily life to once a year at most, lessening of anxiety symptoms, more efficient processing of information when reading, rarely wearing sunglasses and focusing improved. 

Some people see words like this Irlen Syndrome Sample Print Distortions

That really impacts how we process the world around us. TDT can help lessen this experience.

Irlen Syndrome Affects:

  • 12-14% of the general population
  • 46% of individuals with reading and learning difficulties
  • 33% with ADHD
  • 33% with autism
  • 55% with head injury, concussion or whiplash


So when we deal with the underlying causes of the problem on a neurological level, we can improve behaviour and learning outcomes. 

1  Resource
2  Resource
3  Resource
4  Resource
5  Resource

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