Visual Discomfort and Reading

Elizabeth G. Conlon

in Visual Aspects of Dyslexia

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199589814
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191744785 | DOI:
Visual Discomfort and Reading

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Visual discomfort, also referred to as visual stress or Meares-Irlen syndrome, is a collection of somatic and perceptual effects induced in sensitive individuals on exposure to bright light or repetitive striped patterns such as those found on a page of text. Individuals with visual discomfort, otherwise normally functioning, perform visual search and processing speed tasks inefficiently. When orally reading text, this group performs slowly and laboriously, but when silently reading for good comprehension, individuals with visual discomfort trade accuracy for speed and have poor reading comprehension. One explanation for these effects is that individuals with visual discomfort have difficulties extracting relevant signals from irrelevant noise when confronted with a number of different stimulus configurations such as those presented on a page of text. At a cognitive level, this may occur because of difficulties with sustained visual attention. Although cortical hyperexcitability provides a framework to investigate the anomalous effects found, it is argued that future research should contrast the specific neural underpinnings of visual discomfort in individuals who also have migraine or dyslexia to obtain further evidence about the patterns of neural impairment found in different groups.

Keywords: visual discomfort; visual stress; Meares-Irlen syndrome; reading; visual search

Chapter.  5756 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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