Top 5 Eye Charts Used During Eye Exams

eye chart used during eye exam

Eye doctors use eye charts to measure a patient’s visual acuity.

Eye charts are just one of many tools used by your eye doctor when he checks your eyesight. The doctor conducts other tests during a comprehensive eye exam including color vision screening, glaucoma screening, eye muscle balance testing and more.

Eye charts are used during an eye exam to measure visual acuity by checking how well you see. Your eye doctor has you look at the eye chart and read the smallest line of text that you can see from 20 feet away. If you see clearly at 20 feet what most people see at that distance you have 20/20 vision.

In the United States legal blindness is defined as your best corrected vision, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, is only 20/200.  20/200 vision means you have to get within 20 feet of the eye chart to read the line that people with normal vision can see from 200 feet away. Read our article What Does it Mean to be Legally Blind to learn more.

Top 5 Eye Charts used by Eye Doctors

tumbling E Eye Exam Chart

The Tumbling E eye chart helps test a child’s eyesight when part of a comprehensive eye examination.

Optometrists use eye charts as a basic vision check. Today many variations of the eye chart exist.

1. Snellen

The original eye chart designed in the 1860’s by the Dutch eye doctor Hermann Snellen. The first line on this chart is a giant letter E. You read the chart from top to bottom, left to right covering one eye at a time.

2. Jaeger

This eye chart is actually a small card printed on both sides and used to measure your near visual acuity. The eye care professional holds the card at a specific distance and asks you to read the text. Each paragraph gets progressively smaller.

3. Tumbling E

This type of eye chart is used for children that are too small to read or adults with reading or speaking difficulties. The patient is asked to lift their hand up, down, to the left or right depending on the image orientation of the letter E they see on the chart.

4. Landolt C

Edmund Landolt, a Swiss ophthalmologist, created this visual acuity chart. This eye chart, which is similar to the Tumbling E chart, uses a Landolt broken ring symbol in various orientations. The Landolt C chart is a way to check vision for illiterate or mute patients, or anyone not familiar with the Roman alphabet.


The Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study helped develop standardization for both visual acuity testing and eye chart design. The ETDRS is accepted by The National Eye Institute and the Food and Drug Administration as the mandated standard for clinical eye test trials worldwide.

Get Your Eye Exam at Stanton Optical

Optometrists are primary healthcare providers and offer eye and vision care services to their patients. A Doctor of Optometry does many different vision tests during a routine eye examination, including the eye chart test.

Besides prescribing corrective eye wear, eye doctors also diagnose common vision problems like cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Call Stanton Optical at 877-518-5788 to schedule your appointment today.

Eye Chart Resources

  1. The Eye Chart and 20/20 Vision
  2. Standards for Visual Acuity
  3. What is a Snellen Chart
  4. What is 20/20 Vision?
  5. Who Made That Eye Chart?