When you go for an eye check, have you wondered how your optometrist assesses the quality of your vision? You have probably heard words like “eyesight” and “vision” being thrown around, but did you know that these words do not mean the same thing? Understanding eye-related terminology may be something that you think is not important, as long as your optometrist knows what they are doing when they are checking your eyes. However, in order to properly care for your vision, it is good to at least have an understanding of some things that your optometrist might bring up during your checkup. While there are many eye-related terms out there, let’s first get to know some of the basic terms in eye health knowledge – visual acuity, eyesight, and vision.
What is the difference between visual acuity, eyesight, and vision?
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Visual acuity, simply put, refers to how clear or sharp your vision is. At the optometrist, your visual acuity is measured by your ability to correctly point out letters or numbers on a standardized eye chart, also called a Snellen eye chart, from a particular distance away from the chart.
If you have normal visual acuity, you can see the letters being shown on the chart at a distance of 20 feet (approximately 6 meters) away from what a normal person would be able to see at the same distance. This means that you have 20/20 vision. However, it is important to note that having 20/20 vision does not mean that you have perfect vision. There are other essential vision skills like eye coordination and focusing ability that contributes to your overall eye health, which is why we cannot neglect our eye care even if the optometrist says that you have 20/20 vision.
Eyesight is such a big and broad term, which makes it hard to accurately define. The definition varies slightly depending on which dictionary or source one checks, but most generally, it is defined as the overall ability to see and it may be used interchangeably with the term “visual acuity” in some cases.
The word “vision” encompasses a broader meaning as compared to “eyesight” and “visual acuity”. Apart from a simple description of your ability to see, it includes a larger umbrella of visual-related skills and abilities such as contrast sensitivity, colour vision, and depth perception, among others.
Vision care is so much more than being able to see clearly. Let us continue to take responsibility for our eye health by continuously improving our knowledge about how to take better care of our eyes, which includes knowing some of the important eye terminologies above.