We compared the effects of dioptric blur on Snellen acuity and grating acuity. Dioptric blur had a strong negative effect on Snellen acuity, consistent with previous studies, but had little effect on grating acuity. Between 1 and 12 D both types of acuity were reduced as a linear function of blur. However, 12 D of blur reduced grating acuity to only 6/24 (20/80), whereas letter acuity was worse than 6/300 (20/1000). We suggest that these differences are due to the presence of "spurious resolution" in which phase-reversed gratings are readily detectable. But the phase reversals so distort the relative positions of linear segments within the letters that the letters become unrecognizable. These results indicate that Snellen letters are more sensitive than gratings to a patient's refractive errors, emphasize the differences between Snellen and grating acuity, and indicate that the minimum angle of resolution (MAR) concept is not applicable to letters.
(C) 1990 American Academy of Optometry