How to test your vision at home
In this time when many of us are experiencing limited services and spending many more hours indoors, one of the things that can begin to suffer is our vision.
Being in a dry environment, using a screen for prolonged periods, and even just not being able to look out over the horizon are all factors that can have an impact on our eye health and how well we see.
All of this, and not to mention having a bit more extra free time, may get you interested in the possibility of testing your vision at home. Which, with the help of a few online resources and a simple set of instructions, is entirely possible.
Testing your vision at home is no substitute for going in and having a full medical eye examination. However, it can give you a general and quick idea of your vision and the vision of your family members and friends.
As many eye disorders can be corrected if discovered and treated early, home eye testing is a great way to keep on top of your eye health and act as an indicator as to whether or not you may need to seek professional attention. That being said, still, nothing beats a regular eye exam for spotting potential vision problems.
The below instructions are for children above the age of 3 and older children and adults. Children under age 3 should have their vision tested by an ophthalmologist or another vision care professional.
What you will need
You can find the resources for performing this home eye test here on the American Academy of Opthalmology website. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A paper cup or facial tissue to cover the eye
- A pair of scissors
- A piece of tape or blue tack to put the chart on the wall
- A pen or pencil to record the results
- A tape measure or ruler
- A torch, if available
- A well-lit room at least three metres (ten feet) long
- A printer and the right testing chart
Prepare the test area
To prepare for the home eye exam, make sure to select the right chart, the child’s or the adult’s, before printing it out. To ensure it has printed correctly, check the largest letter at the top of the chart is just under 23 millimeters (an inch) tall.Place a chair at a distance of about three metres (or exactly ten feet) from a wall with no windows. This is where the person undergoing the text will be sitting. Opposite the chair, tape or pin the correct chart on the wall, making sure it is in line with the eyes of the person as they are sitting on the chair.
Testing a child (3 or older)
A nice way to get a child to engage in the eye exam is to describe it as a pointing game. You can use these practice cards to show them how to point in the same direction that the letters are “pointing.” Turn the practice ‘E’ card up, down, left, and right, holding it as close to them as they want until they can point in the four directions without your help. If they typically wear glasses, they should wear them during the test. And if the chart seems too dark to see clearly, you can use the torch to illuminate the test letters.
To begin the test, get them to sit in the chair and hold the cover you have ready over one of their eyes without any pressure. Of course, no peeking is allowed, and so you may need someone holding the cover in place. Next, point at each of the Es, starting with the largest. Instruct them to point in the same direction the E is pointing. Keep going until you reach the smallest line the child can correctly see and then write the number down.
Lastly, repeat the test with the other eye covered. Depending on the age and vision, they may already be tired, so you may want to continue with the other eye at a different time.
Testing an older child or adult
Have the person being tested sit in the chair at a distance of ten feet from the chart. You may need to adjust the height of the chart so that it is level with their eyes. With the cover you have ready, have the person use it to cover one of their eyes. If they typically wear glasses for distance vision, they should wear them during the test.
Shine the torch on each line of the chart, while asking the person to read the letters aloud. Continue towards the bottom row, stopping when the letters become too difficult for the person to see. Write down the number of the smallest line they can see correctly, i.e. the smallest line in which they could correctly identify the majority of the letters. Repeat with the other eye and record the results, marking each under the category left or right eye.
What are normal results?
By the age of three of four, a child will typically be able to see the 20/40 line, and by age five, the 20/30 line.
The results of the test can vary on different days. And so you may want to repeat the test over a number of days to get a better idea of their level.
If they can’t see the same line with each eye, they may have a problem that is worth bringing up with your eye doctor at their next check-up.
On average, an older child or adult should be able to read the 20/20 line. If this isn’t the case, again, it may depend on the day, for instance, if they have been using or working for many hours at a screen. But if the results repeat after a few tests, it may be worth arranging to have an examination by an ophthalmologist to see if there are abnormal results.
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