Coloured overlays, tints and their use in mitigating visual stress, reading difficulties and dyslexia is a topic sure to divide the profession.

The decision to remove funding for colour filters from some students may be welcomed by those opposed to their use but where does it leave users? Unless all practices have a response to questions on overlays, parents and sufferers will be left to their own devices. This, and accompanying advice, suggesting teachers shouldn’t try overlays, could simply drive those affected to the internet for a consultation.

This week In Focus looks at the ramifications for optical practices following advice from the Specific learning difficulties (SpLDs) Assessment Standards Committee. In short, it advises Special Educational Needs Teachers not to test with overlays for fear of misdiagnosing or missing pathologies or issues with binocular vision.

The Colour and Visual Stress Group (CViSG) formed last year to provide information on colour assessment reports, from practices offering Colorimetry and overlays, a big increase in children reporting to them.

On one level this is good news, particularly that teachers are not being expected to act as eye care professionals. However the CViSG has expressed concern that there may not be enough practices ready to assess for overlays.

With an estimated three quarters of schools previously offering overlays there will be pupils who fall between the gaps either through parental inaction or referral to a practice that doesn’t do colour assessment. It’s a complex issue; SpLDs cover a range of issues from dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia to ADHD.

The worrying aspect of this is the thousands of overlays available from ebay or Amazon for a few pounds promising relief from visual problems. Whether you are a colour overlay fan or not it may be an issue coming to your practice shortly.