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Home vision tests

Visual acuity test - home; Amsler grid test

Home vision tests measure the ability to see fine detail.

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Visual acuity test

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How the Test is Performed

There are three vision tests that can be done at home: Amsler grid, distance vision, and near vision testing.

AMSLER GRID TEST

This test helps detect macular degeneration. This is a disease that causes blurred vision, distortion, or blank spots. If you normally wear glasses for reading, wear them for this test. If you wear bifocals, look through the bottom reading portion.

Do the test with each eye separately, first the right and then the left. Hold the test grid right in front of you, 14 inches away from your eye. Look at the dot in the center of the grid, not at the grid pattern.

While looking at the dot, you will see the rest of the grid in your peripheral vision. All the lines, both vertical and horizontal, should appear straight and unbroken. They should meet at all the crossing points with no missing areas. If any lines appear distorted or broken, note their location on the grid using a pen or pencil.

DISTANCE VISION

This is the standard eye chart doctors use, which has been adapted for home use.

The chart is attached to a wall at eye level. Stand 10 feet away from the chart. If you wear glasses or contact lenses for distance vision, wear them for the test.

Check each eye separately, first the right and then the left. Keep both eyes open and cover one eye with the palm of the hand.

Read the chart, beginning with the top line and moving down the lines until it is too difficult to read the letters. Record the number of the smallest line that you read correctly. Repeat with the other eye.

NEAR VISION

This is similar to the distance vision test above, but it is held only 14 inches away. If you wear glasses for reading, wear them for the test.

Hold the near vision test card about 14 inches from your eyes. Do not bring the card any closer. Read the chart using each eye separately as described above. Record the size of the smallest line you were able to accurately read.

How to Prepare for the Test

You need a well-lit area at least 10 feet long for the distance vision test, and the following:

The vision chart needs to be tacked to the wall at eye level. Mark the floor with a piece of tape exactly 10 feet from the chart on the wall.

How the Test will Feel

The tests cause no discomfort.

Why the Test is Performed

Your vision may change gradually without you being aware of it.

Home vision tests can help detect eye and vision problems early. Home vision tests should be performed under the direction of your health care provider to detect changes that may occur between eye exams. They do not take the place of a professional eye exam.

People who are at risk of macular degeneration may be told by their ophthalmologist to perform the Amsler grid test more often. It is best to do this test once a week. Macular degeneration changes are gradual, and you can miss them if you test daily.

Normal Results

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may mean you have a vision problem or eye disease and you should have a professional eye examination.

Risks

The tests have no risks.

Considerations

If you have any of the following symptoms, get a professional eye examination:

If children have any of the following symptoms, they should also have a professional eye examination:

Related Information

Vision problems
Nearsightedness
Farsightedness
Astigmatism
Presbyopia

References

American Academy of Ophthalmology Preferred Practice Patterns Committee. Preferred Practice Pattern Guidelines. Comprehensive Adult Medical Eye Evaluation -- 2010. http://one.aao.org/preferred-practice-pattern/comprehensive-adult-medical-eye-evaluation--octobe. Accessed February 26, 2015.

Colenbrander A. Measuring vision and vision loss. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 5, chap 51.

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Review Date: 2/23/2015  

Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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