Share this article on:

New Design Principles for Visual Acuity Letter Charts*

Bailey Ian L.; Lovie, Jan E.
Optometry and Vision Science: November 1976


This paper introduces new principles for the design and use of letter charts for the measurement of visual acuity. It is advocated that the test task should be essentially the same at each size level on the chart. Such standardization of the test task requires the use of letters of equal legibility, the same number of letters on each row, and uniform between-letter and between-row spacing. It is also advocated that, combined with the test task standardization, there should be a logarithmic progression of letter size. Charts incorporating these design features have been made. These charts facilitate the use of nonstandard testing distances which might be used when there is low visual acuity, when examination room layout prevents testing at the standard distance, or when it is necessary to validate visual acuity scores or detect malingering. Adjusting the visual acuity score according to the chosen testing distance is simplified by the use of logarithmic scaling.

* Read before the Southern Regional Congress, Melbourne, Australia, May 1975.

† Optometrist, M.S., Fellow, American Academy of Optometry.

‡ Optometrist, M.S. candidate.

AUTHOR'S ADDRESS: Ian L. Bailey School of Optometry University of California Berkeley, California 94720

© 1976 American Academy of Optometry