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Eye and Vision Care

Distance Visual Acuity

09/17/2009

Question:

My daughter 13yrs old just recently had a vision screening at school. The Distance Visual Acuity test results were RT 10/25 LT 10/25. What does this mean and should she be seen by an eye doctor? Are these results possible, we seem to think she was just playing around when she took the test. But if it is serious I want to take care of the problem.

Answer:

These results are very possible, especially in a 13-year-old who may becoming slightly nearsighted. The upper number of 10 means they tested her vision at 10 feet. Often exams are done at 20 feet so people are used to this upper number being 20. For your daughter's results, her vision is 20/50 for the right eye and 20/50 for the left eye. Technically what this means is that your daughter has to stand at 20 feet to read what a "normal sighted" person can read at 50 feet. For example, she would not be able to read small writing on the classroom board from the back of the room without moving closer to the front. Since she can't see far away, these numbers are consistent with nearsightedness (though they did not test near vision). Her age is very typical of the first diagnosis of nearsightedness.

I would certainly suggest that she receive a comprehensive eye exam. Screenings are not 100% accurate (a fact true of ALL screening tests) so the comprehensive exam might reveal that she can see fine. Equally, kids who pass a screening could have a vision problem that was missed. This is not due to the screener's ability, but rather due to the fact that the screening tests are not 100% accurate. It is better, however, to bias on the side of assuring that vision is adequate given the vision demands of the typical classroom.

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Response by:

Michael  Earley, OD, PhD, FAAO Michael Earley, OD, PhD, FAAO
Assistant Dean for Clinical Services
Professor of Clinical Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University