Donna Cartlidge. HCPC registered Orthoptist.

Member of the British & Irish Orthoptic Society.

Private Visual Stress Clinic – Pullen & Symes Optician. 36 Longbrook St, Exeter. EX4 6AE.

Senior Orthoptist at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Exeter.

Visual Stress Clinic – Assessment fee (one hour consultation) – £95.

Morning or afternoon appointments available. Weekly clinics.

To book an assessment please contact Pullen & Symes 01392 257529. You can self refer to this clinic.

If you require further information please contact Donna Cartlidge. Tel 07817 509712.  /

Exeter Visual Stress Clinic

Meet Donna Cartlidge

Donna currently works as a senior orthoptist at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, operating the Exeter Visual Stress Clinic. Since qualifying in 1993, she has gained nearly three decades’ worth of experience working with and treating both children and adults with a variety of visual concerns and ailments.

As an orthoptist, Donna is qualified to diagnose and treat defects in eye movement and vision. These can be caused by issues with the muscles around the eye or defects in the nerves that enable the brain to communicate with the eyes.

Exeter Visual Stress Clinic

The Exeter Visual Stress Clinic has been successfully running for six years. The aim of the clinic is to identify, diagnose and treat visual disorders which may be contributing to reading or specific learning difficulties in adults and children. Visual processing disorder can also be apparent in patients with neurological conditions such as photosensitive migraine, multiple sclerosis, and stroke.

Visual processing pertains to the way the brain makes sense of visual information. It is the brain’s ability to process and interpret what the eyes see. This includes how the eyes work together, tracking of the eyes whilst reading, making fast eye movements, visual comfort and the perceptual aspects of vision. Difficulties in visual processing may produce various signs and symptoms of visual processing disorder, which can be identified and treated by an orthoptist.

Symptoms of Visual Processing Disorder

  • Screwing up of eyes with visual tasks
  • Blurred vision
  • Print jumbling, vibrating or merging together
  • Frontal lobe headaches
  • Pain around the eyes
  • Light sensitivity, especially to glare, bright white pages or screens

Initial Consultation

At the initial appointment, a full orthoptic assessment of eye tracking and visual stress screening will take place. If any areas of concern are identified, we will offer specific treatments based on the patient’s requirements. Treatments may include orthoptic exercises, optical quality overlays and, following precision colorimetry testing we are able to prescribe precision tinted lenses where necessary.


Eye tracking

Tracking is the ability to make your eyes follow incoming information and process it in your brain to interpret the correct meaning. Inability to focus on letters and numbers and follow them on the page can impair a person’s ability to learn.

Eye tracking exercises can improve the way the eyes follow words on a page and track movements through peripheral vision. They can also help train the eyes to remain focused on an object without moving, and make the eyes move quickly when needed to jump from one line of vision to another.

When reading, children with tracking problems will often lose their place and skip or transpose words. They often have difficulty with comprehension and may use their fingers to follow a line of print. Copying instructions from the board or books can pose serious difficulty for children with tracking dysfunction.

Migraines and Visual Stress

Headaches and photosensitive migraines are often associated with a sensitivity to glare, and most patients are sensitive to light during an attack. This sensitivity (known as visual stress) is associated with an abnormally strong response to bright lights and bold geometric patterns in the visual cortex of the brain. Migraines can be helped by reducing this sensitivity using precision tinted lenses.

Following assessment, we aim to:

  • Determine visual problems relating to reading and writing skills
  • Manage visual processing difficulties through treatment and exercises
  • Offer support to parents and teachers
  • Offer advice and guidance to the school, college or university
  • Identify and treat any orthoptic concerns

Referral to clinic

Self-referral can be made to the Exeter Visual Stress Clinic. You do not require a referral from your GP.

Following a full assessment, a report concluding our findings and recommendations can be provided.

Should you require any more information regarding this clinic please call Pullen & Symes Optician, Exeter 01392 257529.

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