Visual Acuity FAQs

Q.

What does 20/20 vision mean?

A.

20/20 vision is 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, 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.

Other important vision skills, including peripheral awareness or side vision, eye coordination, depth perception, focusing ability and color vision, 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 sharpness of vision at 20 feet. For consistency, optometrists in the United States use 20 feet as the standard for measuring 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.

Many factors affect visual acuity. Vision conditions, like nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, or eye diseases affect clarity of vision.

Q.

Will clarity of vision vary with distance?

A.

Some people can see well at a distance, but cannot 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 items that are far away. This condition may be caused by myopia (nearsightedness).

Q.

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

A.

In a comprehensive eye examination, a doctor of optometry can diagnose what causes, if any, 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, your optometrist might prescribe eye medication or another treatment.

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