The first Intuitive colorimeter was designed in 1993 by Professor Arnold Wilkins when he was working at the Medical Research Council Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge. He conducted research that established the existence of an underlying photophobic condition, previously under-recognised, that could impede the visual ability to read text. The symptoms of the condition were frequently confused with those of dyslexia.
Bruce Evans and Arnold Wilkins entitled the condition Meares-Irlen Syndrome in acknowledgement of two educationalists who had previously noted that coloured filters sometimes helped poor readers. Later, the term visual stress was used as a simpler alternative.
Wilkins’ earlier work on photosensitive epilepsy and migraine led to his recognition that visual stress is probably neurological in origin. In collaboration with a team of scientists at Michigan State University, lead by Professor Jie Huang, it was established, in a pivotal study, that individually prescribed precision tinted lenses, selected from the Intuitive colorimeter, reduced abnormal brain activity in migraine patients.
The study was published in 2011 in the journal Cephalalgia, and replicated using different techniques the following year.
The symptoms of visual stress can occur in a variety of neurological conditions including autism, multiple sclerosis, stroke and closed head injury. Research continues into the use of coloured lenses in these conditions.
Since 1993 many studies in this area have been published by researchers from the disciplines of neurology, vision and education.