What does 20/20 vision actually mean?

An eye doctor will sometimes say your vision is 20/20. Some people are proud of their better than 20/20 vision. In those cases, 20/15 vision may come up. You may also hear someone that has a cataract refer to their vision as 20/100. So what does all of this mean? Do I need to have 20/20 vision?

What does 20/20 vision mean?

20/20 vision is the standard to determine normal visual activity. Looking specifically at clarity and sharpness of vision. According to AAO, a person with 20/20 vision can see what an average individual can see on an eye chart standing 20 feet away.

So if you have 20/50 vision is that better than 20/20? No. It is actually the opposite. If you have 20/50 vision, it means your vision is less than the average individual. At twenty feet away, you read what most individuals can read at 30 feet away.  20/100 vision, a description of a patient that must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 100 feet.

We treat vision more than 20/20 with eye wear. Contacts, glasses, LASIK, etc. Keep in mind, 20/20 vision is average. That does not mean it is perfect vision. A person can have 20/15 vision which means they can see a line on the eye cart at 20 feet that the average person can see at 15 feet.

So what does it mean?

20/20 vision is an average. A standard. It is rare to have vision better than 20/15 vision. The goal is to bring a person’s vision to 20/20. Only about 35% of all adults have 20/20 vision without assistance. If you experience vision less than 20/20, we can help! 75% of adults have 20/20 vision with correction.

Most states require 20/40 or better vision for a driver’s license. As far as children, if they are old enough to read a chart they should have their vision tested. With that said, some children will start to see their vision decrease around age 8, according to Tim Johnson, MD.

Some conditions related to vision higher than 20/20:

  1. Nearsighted – this is also called myopia. Myopia tends to run in the family. This may develop quickly or over time. It is very common. This is a condition in which close objects are clear, but far objects are blurry.
  2. Lazy eye – this is also called amblyopia. This typically a lazy eye is due to abnormal visual development. Most individuals have one lazy eye, but this can affect both eyes. Essentially the nerve pathways between the brain and eye are not properly stimulated therefore the brain favors one side.
  3. Age-related farsightedness – this is also called presbyopia. This condition appears when individuals are around 40. Then it worsens over time starting around age 65. This is when the muscles in the eyes start to loosen and this makes material closer to the eye more difficult to read.
  4. A curved eye – this is also known as astigmatism. Essentially this is when the eye is not perfectly circular creating blurry vision.
  5. Farsighted – this is also known as hyperopia. Essentially the opposite of myopia. It is a condition in which you must squint to see nearby objects.

What does this mean for my vision?

Get your vision test regularly. We love vision. Therefore we want you to have the sharpest vision for as long as possible. With that said, it can only happen if you care for your vision. That means annual visits. Having glasses as a backup to contact lenses. Changing your contact lenses regularly. Contacting your optometrist if any issues occur. If you want to know where you stand on the clarity of your vision, contact us today for an exam!