An eye chart invented by Ferdinand Monoyer, is a chart used to measure visual acuity. Eye charts are often used by health care professionals, such as optometrists, physicians or nurses, to screen persons for vision impairment. Ophthalmologists, physicians who specialize in the eye, also use eye charts to monitor the visual acuity of their patients in response to various therapies such as medications or surgery.

The chart is placed at a standardized distance away from the person whose vision is being tested. The person then attempts to identify the symbols on the chart, starting with the larger symbols and continuing with progressively smaller symbols until the person cannot identify the symbols. The smallest symbols that can be reliably identified is considered the person’s visual acuity.

Chart display several rows of optotypes, which are standardized symbols for testing vision. Optotypes are usually letters, numbers, or geometric symbols. Each row of the chart depicts optotypes of a different size. Typically the largest optotypes are in the top row. The optotypes become progressively smaller towards the bottom of the chart.

The person removes any glasses or contacts, and stands or sits a standardized distance from the chart. The person is then asked to identify the optotypes on the chart, starting with large rows and continuing to smaller rows until the optotypes cannot be reliably identified anymore. The row in which the person can reliably identify symbols defines the visual acuity.

One eye is tested at a time. Practically, this is accomplished by covering the other eye with a hand, piece of paper, or a small paddle. After testing without glasses or contacts, testing is repeated while the person wears them, if applicable. Often, the use of such refractive lenses will correct visual acuity to normal. Refractive error can be corrected using a pinhole occluder. If the visual acuity improves with the use of pinholes, refractive lenses can be utilized to improve visual acuity. Squinting can achieve the same effect as a pinhole occluder.

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