How to Read an Eye Chart Without Glasses

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During an eye exam you may be tested without glasses.
During an eye exam you may be tested without glasses. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

One of the routine tests for an eye exam is to have your visual acuity checked using eye charts. This is often done using a Snellen eye chart for distance and a Jaeger reading chart or card for near visual acuity. If you wear glasses, these tests are often performed while they are on, however, there are times when your vision is also checked without wearing any visual correction. If you are used to taking your eye tests while wearing corrective lenses this may seem difficult or unusual, however the testing method is the same with or without your glasses on.

Distance Chart

Stand up or sit in a chair that is 20 feet from the eye chart. In a doctor's office the distance may be simulated using mirrors. Your body and gaze should be facing the chart.

Remove your glasses if you are wearing them so that you can check your vision free of any correction. Cover your left eye with your hand or an eye occluder.

Starting at the top of the chart, use your right eye to read the letters or numbers one line at a time. As you read the chart, each consecutive line will be smaller in size.

Stop reading when you come to a line that you are unable to read or that you feel you must strain to read.

Uncover your left eye, and use your hand or the occluder to cover your right eye.

Read down to the smallest line that you are able to read, using your left eye only.

Uncover your right eye. Using both eyes, read the eye chart as far down as you can.

Jaeger Near Reading Chart

Hold the reading card comfortably at a distance that you would normally hold your reading material, between 12 to 16 inches.

Cover one eye at a time and read the smallest line on the card. When checking your vision one eye at a time, hold the card at the same distance for each eye.

After reading with each eye individually, read to the smallest line of numbers using both eyes.

Tips & Warnings

  • For accurate results, when reading the eye charts for distance or near, do not squint, strain or lean closer to the chart as you are reading.

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