Acuity Measurements--Do They Indicate How Well a Partially Sighted Person Functions or Could Function?

by Samuel M. Genensky

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The measurement of distant visual acuity is all too often believed a reliable indicator of what a person can do with his eyesight. However, it does not tell about the quality of image seen, and cannot tell what a partially sighted person has accomplished or can be expected to accomplish. An accurate assessment for partially sighted persons would include measurement of both near and distant visual acuity, analysis of the person's gross visual fields, as well as feedback from the person regarding his visual fields. The most tragic thing done with distant visual acuity measurements is their use as the major criterion by which to judge whether a person is blind or sighted. The definition of legal blindness has done great harm to partially sighted people. Current research on vision at RAND, which may provide useful information about visual acuity, includes a 3 year grant from the Rehabilitation Services Administration to examine the visual environmental adaptation problems of the partially sighted. (Paper presented at American Academy of Optometry, 1975 annual meeting, Columbus, Ohio.) 10 pp.

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