• Eye Conditions

What Does 20/20 Vision Mean?

male surfer squinting as he wonders what does 20/20 vision mean

“My Kids Have Great Eyesight!”

If you’re like most Aussie parents, you probably believe that your children have excellent vision.

According to Optometry Australia, nearly 80% of Australian parents believe their children have great eyesight, and 68% have taken their children to have their eyes examined by an optometrist.1

Of those children however, 35% have required prescription glasses – a figure which shows that kids are more likely to have vision problems than parents expect!

But what is normal vision?  And how can you tell if you or your child has a problem?

What Does 20/20 Vision Mean?

20/20 vision is considered the benchmark for normal vision. The figures relate to standard sight tests, like the Snellen visual acuity chart, which measures the sharpness of vision. The chart depicts rows of letters at increasingly smaller sizes.

The first 20 refers to the distance, in feet, from the eye chart, while the second indicates the distance at which a person with “normal” vision can see a row of letters clearly.

So if the second number is higher than 20, it means your vision is worse than normal (such as 20/40) – you need to be at a distance of 20 feet, to see what those with “normal” eyesight can see at 40 feet.

Of course in Australia, we use metric rather than imperial measurements. Our optometrists use metres (rather than feet) as the basis of measurement, so 20/20 vision is actually represented as 6/6 in our country!

There are some limitations to Snellen eye charts, as they don’t measure things like depth perception, peripheral vision or the ability to see colours. Being a Behavioural Optometry practice, we conduct a wide range of tests in addition to using the Snellen eye charts to help us identify any potential problems.

Can You Have Better Than 20/20 Vision?

Yes, you can. For instance, 20/10 vision means that when you stand at 20 feet from the eye chart, you can see what the average person can see when they’re 10 feet way. To put it another way, you can see better at a distance than the average person.

But what if you or your child don’t have 20/20 vision? How would you know, and how is it treated?

Signs of Potential Vision Problems

  • Sitting close to the TV
  • Squinting or tilting the head to see more clearly
  • Frequent headaches
  • Rubbing the eyes
  • Holding a book up close to the face
  • Weepy, teary eyes
  • Poor focus
  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision

Why Do I need Glasses – I have 20/20 Vision?!

You might be surprised to learn that people with 20/20 vision may still need glasses.

The Snellen eye chart is in black and white, so it only measures high contrast vision. Corrective lenses may still be needed for conditions like astigmatism (an atypical lens curvature), presbyopia (inability to focus on close objects), or to help with colour vision deficiency (colour blindness).

If you have any concerns about your vision or that of your children, you can make an appointment for an eye test – which is usually bulk billed – by calling or booking online at our Redlands optometry practice today. We can provide eye tests for babies from as young as 6 months of age!



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