Visual Acuity FAQs

Q.

What does 20/20 vision mean?

A.

20/20 vision is a term used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet.

If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance.

If you have 20/100 vision, it means that you must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 100 feet.

Q.

Does 20/20 mean perfect vision?

A.

No. 20/20 vision only indicates the sharpness or clarity of vision at a distance.

There are other important vision skills, including peripheral awareness or side vision, eye coordination, depth perception, focusing ability and color vision that contribute to your overall vision ability.

Q.

Is 15/15 vision better than 20/20 Vision?

A.

No. 15/15 vision means normal sharpness of vision at 15 feet just as 20/20 indicates normal acuity at 20 feet. For consistency, optometrists in the United States use 20 feet as the standard to express sharpness of vision.

Other countries express visual acuity in their own way. In England, for example, optometrists express visual acuity in meters (6/6 is considered normal).

Q.

Why do some people have less than 20/20 vision?

A.

Visual acuity is affected by many factors. Less than optimum clarity may result from vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism or from eye diseases.

Q.

Will clarity of vision vary with distance?

A.

Some people can see well at a distance, but are unable to bring nearer objects into focus. This condition can be caused by hyperopia (farsightedness) or presbyopia (loss of focusing ability). Others can see items that are close, but cannot see those far away. This condition may be caused by myopia (nearsightedness).

Q.

If my vision is less than 20/20, what can I do?

A.

A comprehensive eye examination by a doctor of optometry can diagnose those causes, if any, that are affecting your ability to see well.

In most cases, your optometrist can prescribe glasses, contact lenses or a vision therapy program that will help improve your vision. If the reduced vision is due to an eye disease, the use of ocular medication or other treatment may be used.