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Eye Health and Vision Basics

To maintain good eye health and vision, it is important to see an eye health care provider at least once every couple of years as an adult, or immediately if you have any degree of sudden vision loss, eye pain, or irritation. Most eye diseases can be found during a routine eye exam and treated when found in an early stage. If you have health problems such as diabetes, you may need to visit your eye doctor more frequently to detect any complications.

What Does It Mean to Have 20/20 Vision?

20/20 vision is your visual acuity, or the sharpness of vision at 20 feet from an object. Having 20/60 vision means that you must be at 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 60 feet. 20/20 does not translate into perfect vision and does not indicate other important aspects of sight such as peripheral vision, the ability to see colors, or depth perception.

What Does Visual Acuity Mean?

Visual acuity is a measure of your central vision, the ability to distinguish details and shapes of objects.

What Tests Are Used to Determine Visual Acuity?

Visual acuity tests simply consist of reading an eye chart. There are even simple tests, like the "Random E Test," that can be used to determine the visual acuity of infants or non-readers.


What Options Are Available to Correct Impaired Vision?

There are many safe and affordable choices available for those in need of vision correction. They include:

  • Eyeglasses: Perhaps the most traditional form of vision correction, eyeglasses improve vision by bending light. They are practical, affordable, and safe.
  • Contact Lenses: Contacts are more suitable for people with an active lifestyle. They work the same way as eyeglasses, but stay in place better during physical activities. Being outdoors also means being in the sun, and contacts allow you to wear sunglasses at the same time. There are many different brands, colors, and materials, so it is best to shop around to find the contacts that work best for you.
  • Corrective Surgery: Vision correction surgery improves sight by changing the refractive, or light bending, properties of the eye. Refractive surgery is not cosmetic, but is functional because it decreases dependence on eyeglasses or contact lenses and for many people can allow complete independence from corrective eyewear.

Does Health Insurance Cover the Cost of Eye Care?

Most vision health insurance plans will cover a portion or all of the expenses associated with vision care. It is best to check with your health insurance provider to determine the limits of your coverage. If you do not have vision health insurance, some doctors may work with you to set up an affordable payment plan. If a medical eye problem is found, your regular health insurance will usually cover treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Alan Kozarsky, MD on February 23, 2014

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