Letter to the Editor: Eyesight and the eye chart

March 3, 2012


Would you believe… the eye chart that was introduced over 150 years ago (1862 to be exact) is still present in every medical office in the world? It is still being used as a screening device for vision disorders. Before the Snellen eye chart was developed, there were no means to measure what the eye could see at great distances.

But it’s the same 150-plus-year-old eye chart that is still being used to determine seeing problems of the young and old. How far away one can see has very little to do with today’s school problems or computer problems or work problems. The eye chart is a monocular test for far-away seeing. It has little to do with reading difficulties. It does give a false sense of security in what the two eyes can see.

Can you imagine any other test for health screening that uses a test that is 150–plus years old and presents mostly false positives for what it tests?

According to an NIH (National Institute of Health) study, even trained health screeners still miss 30 percent of children’s vision disorders. Amblyopia, strabismus and refractive errors were consistently missed during the study’s screening process.

Can you imagine what the eye chart CANNOT do?

Sol Tannebaum, O.D.
Olympia Fields, Ill.

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