Education Matters: City Schools Invited to Visual Stress Talk

Article excerpt

Byline: Shahid Naqvi Education Correspondent

Every school in Birmingham has been invited to a conference explaining how an eye defect that can be corrected using coloured-tinted spectacles is holding back thousands of children.

The condition, known as visual stress, affects about five per cent of the population, but some experts believe as many as 20 per cent of pupils may suffer to some degree.

Symptoms range from words appearing to swim around on the page and letters fading or changing in size to nausea, dizziness and headaches.

The conference, which is being sponsored by The Birmingham Post, will take place at Aston University on October 30 and will include talks from some of the country's leading vision experts.

Aston University was chosen for the conference because its optometry department was one of the first in the country to screen for the condition, also known as visual dyslexia.

Dr Frank Eperjesi, lead clinician at the centre who will be speaking at the event, said: 'We are very aware of this problem.

'We regularly see our own students struggling with visual stress. Many of them throughout the university are wearing tinted lens glasses.

'We have a lot of people coming from schools, usually it is off their own back. Sometimes an interested teacher has made contact with us.'

Screening for the condition is patchy, however. In Birmingham there are only about two or three opticians with the specialist equipment, called a Colorimeter, needed to detect and treat sufferers. Nationally, there are 160.

A few local education authorities in the country recognise the importance of identifying and correcting visual stress among schoolchildren.

Most, however, have been slow to respond, despite a growing body of evidence showing the benefits of tinted spectacles for some children.

'Slowly, more and more people are becoming aware of this,' said Mr Eperjesi. …