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Comparison of Visual Acuity Charts in Young Adults and Patients with Diabetic Retinopathy

Plainis, Sotiris*; Kontadakis, George; Feloni, Eftychia; Giannakopoulou, Trisevgeni; Tsilimbaris, Miltiadis K.§; Pallikaris, Ioannis G.§; Moschandreas, Joanna

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e31827ce251
Original Articles

Purpose: To compare visual acuity (VA) assessed in healthy eyes and eyes with diabetic retinopathy (DR) using three different logMAR charts: the Sloan letter European-wide chart, the tumbling E chart, and the Landolt C chart.

Methods: Measurements on one eye of 40 volunteers (aged 29 ± 4 years) without visual impairment and 31 DR patients (aged 70 ± 9 years) with mild/moderate visual impairment were included. Visual acuity was assessed, with habitual refractive correction, using each of the three charts. Bland-Altman charts were constructed, and 95% limits of agreement were calculated to measure agreement.

Results: Mean VA in the group of young adults was −0.05 ± 0.10 (Sloan letter), −0.02 ± 0.13 (tumbling E), and 0.00 ± 0.12 (Landolt C) logMAR. Average VA estimates differed to a statistically significant extent between all charts. Mean VA in the DR group was 0.46 ± 0.25 (Sloan letter), 0.48 ± 0.26 (tumbling E), and 0.59 ± 0.28 (Landolt C). A statistically significant difference was observed for average Sloan letter versus Landolt C (p < 0.001) and tumbling E versus Landolt C (p < 0.001) acuities. Moreover, in healthy eyes, a moderate correlation (r = −0.38, p = 0.015) was found between the discrepancy in Sloan letter and Landolt C acuity and the mean VA estimate. The 95% limits of agreement were wide (more than approximately 0.2 logMAR for each comparison) and wider in the DR group chart comparisons than in healthy eyes.

Conclusions: Landolt C charts resulted in worse VA estimates compared with letter and tumbling E charts in both young adults and visually impaired subjects with DR. These differences seem more pronounced in DR patients who exhibit worse VAs. The specific study population must be considered in comparing outcomes from different clinical practices.

*MSc, PhD



§MD, PhD


Institute of Vision and Optics, University of Crete, Greece (SP, GK, TG, MKT, IGP); Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom (SP); and Department of Social Medicine, University of Crete, Greece (JM).

Sotiris Plainis Institute of Vision and Optics School of Health Sciences University of Crete 71003 Heraklion Crete Greece e-mail:

© 2013 American Academy of Optometry