How Important is it to see “20/20?”

A visual acuity test is performed by an optometrist to check how well you can see a letter or a symbol from a specific distance.

The term visual acuity helps define your ability to distinguish the details of a shape that you see. It forms a portion of your overall visual health examination.

There are two common visual acuity tests, both of them are fair and simple. And neither of them cause discomfort or the need for special preparation before carrying out the visual acuity test.

There are two forms of visual acuity testing:

The Snellen test and the Random E test.

Snellen Test

The Snellen chart is made up of rows of random letters and numbers that are viewed from 14 to 20 feet away. Typically, one eye is covered and the doctor will ask you to read the chart, moving from the largest to the smallest until the letters and numbers are ineligible. The process is then repeated with the other eye covered.

Random E Test

The Random E test is done by looking at the letter “E” on a chart or projection. In this test, you will be asked to identify the direction of the letter “E, whether it is facing up, down, left or right. This is a more formal method of assessment wherein you’ll be looking at a chart through different lenses until you can see the chart clearly. Throughout this test, your doctor will be switching between different lenses until you can see the letters clearly.

The results of these tests determine your visual acuity and it’s in the form of a fraction, such as 20/20. Having 20/20 vision means that your visual acuity is average or normal and it means that you have to be 20 feet away to see an object that most people can see from 20 feet away. If your results are 20/40 or 20/60 you may need correctional eyeglasses as it means that you need to be at a distance of 20 feet from an object in order to see what most people can see from either 40 feet or 60 feet respectively. The results may also point to further evaluation of your eyes.

Your optometrist will perform the visual activity test to assess your overall vision. Driving license bureaus, certain jobs that require perfect vision can ask for a visual acuity test to better assess your overall vision and whether or not you meet their minimum requirements.

Vision Therapy

Vision therapy (VT) can treat certain types of vision problems that reduce your ability to see clearly such as amblyopia or lazy eye, strabismus (misaligned eyes). VT can also treat functional visual impairments following brain injury (such as concussion or stroke), and fluctuation vision related to computer vision syndrome. We do a Visual Performance Evaluation to make sure your ability to process and integrate visual information is at its best.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can also impair your visual acuity. Poor vision due to dry eyes usually fluctuates depending on how dry your eyes are, how much sleep you’ve had, and how much computer or desk work you are doing.

Dry eyes is a condition where your tear quality or tear quantity is deficient which affects the health of your eyes as well as your vision. When your tears break up, your vision breaks down because tears form a smooth optical surface to allow you to see clearly. Dry eyes are caused by extensive screen time on a computer, living in a low-humidity environment, high exposure to smoke, and certain medications. We provide a holistic approach to treating this condition through our MoisturEyes Dry Eye Spa. We have a relaxing heated massage to open up blocked tear making glands, as well as an IPL which uses intense pulse light to treat the inflammation that damages tear glands after being clogged. Dry eyes is a progressive disease that can lead to loss of eye lashes, red eyes, burning and discomfort as well as frequent eye infections and lid crusts. Artificial tears offer only temporary relief, but do not address the underlying cause of dry eyes. We do a variety of tests, and can image your tear making glands to identify the cause of dry eyes to allow effective and safe treatment to restore your eyes to health.

Scleral Contact Lenses

If glasses and regular contact lenses do not give you adequate visual acuity, scleral contact lenses are a powerful option. Scleral lenses form a new surface on the eye to give you clear and comfortable vision even if you have a severe vision problem causing optical distortion such as keratoconus, high astigmatism, or distorted corneas after surgery. Scleral lenses are comfortable and larger than most contact lenses. We are one of the few practices in the country that have an sMap3D that allows us to take a digital measurement of 1 million data points on the eye to design a custom fit lens to help you see your best in comfort. Dr. Brisco and her contact lens technicians have been certified to fit Europa and Latitude scleral contact lenses. We have helped many patients get a new lease on life with better vision through scleral contact lenses.

Dr. Elise Brisco

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