Below are instructions on how to test the vision of your family members, friends, and yourself. It is not a substitute for a complete medical eye examination by an ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.), but this test may help you discover a vision problem that requires professional attention. Many eye disorders can be corrected if discovered and treated early.
What you need
1. Something to cover the eye, such as a paper cup or facial tissue.
3. Tape or tack to hang the test chart on the wall.
4. A pencil or pen to record the results.
5. A yardstick, tape measure, or ruler.
6. A flashlight, if available.
7. A well-lighted room at least 10 feet long.
How to prepare the test area
1. Measure 10 feet from a wall with no windows and place a chair at this point.
2. Select either the child’s or adult’s test chart and print it out.
3. Tape or pin the chart on the bare wall, level with the eyes of the person you will test as he or she sits in the chair.
Testing a child (age 3 or older)
Explain to your child that you are going to play a “pointing game.” Using the practice E card, show him or her how to point in the same direction that the E is “pointing.” Turn the practice E in the four different directions (up, down, right, left). You may hold the practice card as close as the child wants until he or she can point in the four directions without help.
Have your child sit in the chair 10 feet from the chart, holding the cover over one eye without applying any pressure. Do not let the child peek. A second person may be needed to hold the cover in place and watch for peeking. If your child wears glasses, he or she should wear them during the test.
If the chart seems too dark to see clearly, use the flashlight to illuminate the test letters. Point at each of the Es, starting with the largest. Have your child point in the direction the E is pointing.
Write down the number of the smallest line your child can correctly see on the Visual Acuity Report Card. Now repeat the test with the other eye covered. If your child is tired, you may wish to test the other eye at a different time.
Testing an adult or older child
Use the adult chart at a 10-foot test distance, level with the eyes. Cover one eye. If the person uses eyeglasses for distance vision, the glasses should be worn during the test.
Shine the flashlight on each line of the chart, while the person you are testing reads the letters out loud. Continue to the bottom row or until the letters are too difficult for the person to see.
Write down the number of the smallest line seen correctly (the line with the majority of the letters correctly identified) on the Visual Acuity Report Card. Now repeat the test with the other eye covered and record the results.
What do the results mean?
A child should be able to see the 20/40 line by age 3 or 4 and the 20/30 line by age 5. If you test your child several times on different days and your child cannot see the expected line of print or cannot see the same line with each eye, he or she may have an eye problem. You should have your child evaluated by a physician.
An older child or adult should be reading the 20/20 line. You should arrange for a medical eye examination by an ophthalmologist if there are abnormal results.
Visual acuity report card
Use this card to record the results of your home screening. If the test results indicate you or your child needs to see an ophthalmologist, take this card with you.
test right eye left eye
Visual Acuity 20/ 20/
Visual Acuity 20/ 20/
Practice E for children