Eye exams are recommended every two years. Children as young as 3 years old should have their eyes tested. A parent can test their children and each other with an easy home eye exam. Acquiring an eye chart and using common household items an effective eye exam is simple to administer.
Home Eye Exam materials needed:
1. Eye charts and test results report card
a. Snellen chart for adults find online and print
b. Tumbling (Letter “E”) chart for children find online and print
c. Test Results Score Card (Visual Acuity Report Card) find online print copies
d. Large letter “E” practice card print or draw your own practice card
2. Sticky pad, wall tack or tape for hanging chart on wall
3. Tape measure capable of measuring a 10-foot distance
4. Scissors, black marker, pen or pencil and index card
5. Well lit room at least 10 feet in length, flashlight and a straight back chair
6. Tissue or paper cup
Instructions for Test Area Setup:
a. Choose a well-lit room with an open 10-foot distance. Measure 10 feet and place a chair (front edge of chair at the 10-foot mark).
b. Hang eye chart according to height of child. Child should view chart looking straight ahead.
c. The test area should allow you to stand between child and eye chart without blocking child’s view. You will need to see child’s response and highlight letters with flashlight or point to the letter.
Explaining the Children’s Exam (3 years old and up):
1. Begin by explaining that the child is going to learn a new game called “E” thumb pointing. Using the practice card(5 by 7 index card with large letter “E”), explain to the child that the three lines on the letter “E” are fingers, using your thumb demonstrate to the child that the fingers are pointing to the right, then turn the card in each direction demonstrating with your thumb the direction the fingers are pointing. Repeat as many times as needed until, child can identify correctly each direction using their thumb when responding to the question, “What direction are the fingers pointing?” Next, the child will need to practice covering left eye answering some questions then practice covering the right eye. Spend time working with child holding a tissue or paper cup over one eye while answering questions. Make sure child can correctly recognize every direction with right eye only then left eye. Complete practice test using index card up close and a few steps away. Then the child is ready to take the 10-foot test.
2. Begin test. **If child wears glasses, the glasses should be worn during test. Start by asking the child to cover left eye then look at the biggest letter “E” on the chart. Highlight letters with flashlight if needed or walk to chart and point. Ask the question, “What direction are the fingers pointing?” Continue through the lines of letters until child answers incorrectly. The last line of letters read correctly is the child’s test score. Each line of letters has a corresponding set of numbers appearing in the format of 20/20, 20/40, 20/60, etc… Mark on your scorecard the numbers representing the last correct line read by the child. The set of numbers represents the child’s Visual Acuity level. If the score of the exam is not 20/20 (normal) then the child demonstrates evidence for having a re-test completed by an eye examiner. Record the score for the right eye. The child may need a break before testing the left eye. Record a brief description of test results for future reference.
3. You should give the home test more than once for an accurate score. If scores continue below 20/20, a re-test is needed. Remember to take the visual acuity report card with you.
Administering a Teen/adult Exam:
Test area set up the same as the child’s test area using the Snellen chart
****Wearing of prescribed glasses permitted for testing.
1. Begin by having the teen or adult cover the left eye then read the 20/20 line. If the tester can correctly read the 20/20 line with right eye then test left eye. When 20/20 line is read with both eyes, the test is complete and vision is normal. An incorrect answer moves the participant down to the next line where letters are larger. The last line of letters read correctly is the participant’s score.
**Any score regardless of the eye that falls below the 20/20 score is evidence for having the family member re-tested by an eye care examiner.
Administering a home eye test should never replace an eye exam from a trained examiner or your eye doctor. Early detection of a vision issue provides an individual the best chance of decreasing eye deterioration and prevent vision loss.