• Home Vision Tests for Children and Adults

    Edited By Dan Gudgel
    Feb. 08, 2021

    Here's an eye test that you can do at home to check your vision or the vision of family and friends.

    But remember: A home vision test is no substitute for an exam by an eye care provider. A comprehensive eye exam by an ophthalmologist will be much more accurate than a home vision test, and it may even detect underlying health issues elsewhere in your body.

    Professional vision exams are important because many eye disorders can be corrected if discovered and treated early. Don't rely solely on a home exam when it comes to children's health. Children under age 3 should have their vision tested by an ophthalmologist or other eye care professional. Learn more about when eye exams are recommended for other age groups.

    Gather supplies needed to check your eyesight at home

    • Something to cover the eye, like a paper cup or facial tissue.
    • Scissors.
    • Tape or tack to hang the test chart on the wall.
    • A pencil or pen to record the results.
    • A yardstick, tape measure, or ruler.
    • A flashlight, if available.
    • A well-lighted room at least 10 feet long.
    • The correct testing chart.

    Set up your home eye test area

    • Select either the child’s or adult’s test chart and print it out. When printed, the largest letter at the top of the chart should be just under an inch (23 millimeters) tall.
    • Measure 10 feet from a wall with no windows, and place a chair at this point.
    • 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.

    How to test a child's vision at home (for children ages 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 (more than half of the Es correctly identified).
    • Then 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.

    At-home eye tests for adults and older children

    • Have the person being tested sit in the chair, 10 feet from the chart. Make sure the chart is level with his or her eyes.
    • Have the person being tested cover one eye. If he or she 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 more than half of the letters correctly identified).
    • Now repeat the test with the other eye covered and record the results.

    What are normal scores for home vision testing?

    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.

    Record the results of your home vision exam

    Record the results of your home screening by filling in the number of the smallest line the person could read for each line below. If the test results indicate that you or your child needs to see an ophthalmologist, take the numbers you wrote down with you.

      right eye left eye
    Home Visual Acuity Screening 20/___ 20/___

    Download free eye charts to test your vision at home