Academic papers

Reports of benefit from colour came to the attention of Professor Arnold Wilkins of the Medical Research Council, UK in the early 1990’s. Concerned that the benefit was placebo effect, he recognised that if colour potentially gave benefit, the colour needed to be selected with precision and with the three aspects of colour, hue, saturation and brightness independent of one another. To allow this selection he invented what is called today the Intuitive Colorimeter and used this instrument to carry out scientific research into this effect.

Following open trials, a double blind placebo controlled trial *2, published in 1994, proved that the beneficial effect of colour on perceptual distortion was not entirely attributable to a placebo effect. This meant that many children and adults with visual stress could be helped. Further research showed a possible explanation of the effect *3 and confirmed links with photosensitive epilepsy *4

Much research has also been carried out into the effect of colour with migraine.*5 Again people with migraine or with migraine in the family are particularly susceptible to the perceptual distortions seen in epileptogenic visual stimuli and colour can be of benefit.


It is recognised that problems of visual stress could be attributed to Binocular vision anomalies or refractive problems, so it is vitally important that prior to a colour assessment a full optometric examination is carried out to eliminate these possibilities which it would be inappropriate to treat with colour.*7 + *8

*1 Lightstone A. Lightstone T. Wilkins A. Both coloured overlays and coloured lenses can improve reading fluency but their optimal chromaticities differ. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 19 279-285 (1999)

*2 Wilkins A. Evans B.J.W. Brown J.A. Busby A.E. Wingfield A.E. Jeans R.J. and Bald J. Double-masked placebo-controlled trial of precision filters in children who use coloured overlays. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics Vol 14 365-370 (1994)

*3 Wilkins A.J. Visual Stress Oxford Science Publications (1995)

*4 Wilkins A.J. Baker A. Amin D. Smith S. Bradford J. Zaiwalla Z. Besag F. Binnie C. Fish D. Treatment of photosensitive epilepsy using coloured glasses. Seizure 8 444-449 (1999)

*5 Wilkins A.J. Patel R. Evans B.J. Tinted spectacles and visually sensitive migraine. Cephalalgia 22 711-719 (2002)

*6 Huang J. Wilkins A. Cao Y. Mechanisms whereby precision spectral filters reduce visual stress: an fMRI study.

*7 Evans B.J Patel R. Wilkins A.J. Optometric function in visually sensitive migraine before and after treatment with tinted spectacles. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 22 130-142 (2002)

*8 Scott L. McWhinnie H. Taylor L. Stevenson N. Irons P. Lewis E. Evans M. Evans B. Wilkins A. Coloured overlays in school: orthoptic and optometric findings. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 22 156-165 (2002)