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20/20 Vision

What does it mean to have 20/20 vision?

20/20 vision describes visual acuity, or the sharpness of vision at 20 feet from an object. Having 20/60 vision means that you must be at 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 60 feet. 20/20 does not translate into perfect vision and does not indicate other important aspects of sight like peripheral vision, the ability to see colors or depth perception.

What does visual acuity mean?

Visual acuity, or central vision, is the ability to distinguish details and shapes of objects. It does not include depth perception, peripheral vision, or color blindness.

What tests are used to determine visual acuity?

There are various tests, like the "Random E Test," that can be used to determine the visual acuity of infants, children, and adults. These tests are non-invasive, painless, reliable and can be performed almost anywhere. The results will give your eye health professional information about your sight and what prescription you will need to correct it. Visual acuity tests are fairly simple and can be performed by a technician, nurse, optician, optometrist, or ophthalmologist.

Corrective methods for vision

There are many safe and affordable choices for those who need vision correction. It is important to select a corrective vision method that suits your optical needs and lifestyle.

  • Eyeglasses: Probably the most traditional form of vision correction is the spectacle, or eyeglasses. Glasses work by bending light into a functional degree of vision. Eyeglasses are practical, affordable, and safe.
  • Contact lenses: Contacts are more suitable for those with an active lifestyle. They also work in the same method as eyeglasses, but stay in place better during physical activities. Being outdoors also means being in the sun, and contacts allow you to wear sunglasses at the same time. There are many different brands, colors, and materials, so it is best to shop around to find the contacts that work best for you.
  • Corrective surgery: Vision correction surgery is performed by changing the refractive, or light-bending, properties of the eye. Refractive surgery is not cosmetic but rather is functional because it restores a person’s ability to see at a moderate visual acuity. Some people may not be good candidates for corrective surgery, but the results are long-lasting and there is no hassle with daily cleaning or repair.

Why is having good vision so important?

  • Safety: Average activities, such as driving, biking, or even walking can be dangerous for you and others if you can’t see properly. Having good vision can prevent unnecessary mishaps, especially when outdoors or close to traffic.
  • Comfort: Being able to see clearly allows you more freedom in your activities. Having good vision means that you won’t have to squint, whether you’re at the back of the classroom or at the front of the movie theater.
  • Reading ease: Good vision helps you read more comfortably for work, learning, or just enjoyment.
  • Quality of life: With good vision, you will not have to compromise your quality of life by missing out on its most important moments.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 10/20/2009...#8561

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

© Copyright 2014 Cleveland Clinic. All rights reserved.

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