If you’ve been postponing regular visits to a doctor of optometry because they once told you that you had 20/20 vision, then you should keep reading. Many people believe if they pass a vision screening with flying colors, their eyes are in impeccable shape. However, having 20/20 vision doesn’t necessarily mean you have healthy eyes.
“I have 20/20 vision” are words you may have uttered while bragging about having tip-top eyesight, however, it’s not that simple. In fact, it’s highly probable that many people don’t even know what those numbers means. 20/20 vision only represents the clarity of your vision when viewing objects 20 feet in the distance.
Normal vision is known as “20/20”. This simply means that the eye being tested is able to see an object at 20 feet as well as any eye with very good vision. The higher the second number, the worse your distance vision. For example, if you have 20/60 vision, it means that what you see at 20 feet, most people can see at 60 feet… if the change in vision is to 20/200 or worse, the person will still keep some vision but will be classified as “blind”. Some people are lucky enough to also have better than 20/20 vision.
If you have 20/20 vision or better, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have “perfect vision.” There are other important elements of vision and Optometrists take multiple factors into consideration when determining the quality of your vision. A few of those factors include eye focusing, peripheral awareness, coordination, movement, depth perception, teaming, as well as visual perceptual skills and color vision are contributing factors to overall eye health.
It should be noted that the quality of your eyesight and eye health are not mutually exclusive. Glaucoma, a progressive eye disease caused by increased pressure in the eye, demonstrates that you can have all the signs of good vision while unknowingly living with an eye disease that is one of the leading causes of blindness in Canada.
A comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor can diagnose problems, if any, that are affecting your ability to see well. In addition to refractive errors (e.g., astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness), your optometrist can also detect eye conditions, like glaucoma, cataracts, or macular degeneration, and larger health conditions, including diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension.
Oddly enough, you could be in the late stages of glaucoma, for example, and still have 20/20 vision. That’s why a comprehensive eye exam—not just an eye chart test—is an essential part of maintaining healthy eyes. In some cases, your eye doctor can prescribe glasses, contact lenses, or a vision therapy program to help improve your vision. In other cases, he or she can work with your primary care doctor to help treat conditions affecting more than just your eyes.
While 20/20 vision is a good test of how clearly you can see, it’s only one part of having healthy, happy eyes. To stay in the know about the true state of your vision and eye health, make sure to book regular comprehensive eye exam visits with your local doctor of optometry.