Visual stress: origins and treatment

Author:Arnold J Wilkins
Volume Info:Volume 6 January 2021
Article Information

Volume 6 January 2021, pages 74-86
Received: 23rd October 2020; Accepted: 11th November 2020

Arnold J Wilkins
University of Essex, UK

Affiliation details: Arnold J Wilkins is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Essex


The statistical characteristics of visual images that provoke discomfort generally differ from those of images found in nature. Computational models of the cortex suggest that uncomfortable images are processed inefficiently, a suggestion consistent with the large electrical and haemodynamic cortical response such images induce. The response is greater in individuals who customarily experience visual discomfort, such as those with migraine. Text provides an unnatural image and can be uncomfortable when small and closely spaced. It can provoke illusions of color, shape and motion, just as do patterns of stripes, and these illusions can disturb reading and reading acquisition. Changing the lighting chromaticity can sometimes reduce these illusions, particularly in patients with migraine aura, thereby facilitating reading.


Visual Stress, Flicker, Stripes, Lighting, Migraine, Aura, Discomfort



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