What is 20-20 vision?

What is 20-20 Vision?

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Studies show that over 70% of people in the UK require some form of corrective eyewear, and with this number increasing year after year, it’s vital to understand what how important eye health is, and learn exactly how to take care of your vision. 

What is 20-20 Vision?

Simply put, 20-20 vision is used to describe the ability to clearly see an object from 20 feet away. 

If you have 20-20 vision then it suggests that from 20 feet away, you can see the same amount of detail as the average person with normal eyesight.

20-20 vision is actually an American measurement and in the UK you might be more familiar with 6/6, however, the two are interchangeable and mean the same thing. 

How Common is 20-20 Vision?

20-20 vision is not very common. Less than 40% of people have 20-20 vision without the need for corrective eyewear or laser eye surgery. 

Although 20-20 vision is seen as the average or the ‘ideal’ this does not mean you need to worry. 

For example, in the UK, to be able to obtain your driver’s license you need to have at least 20/40 (6/12) eyesight, meaning you don’t need perfect eyesight to drive. 

What Causes Less than Average Eyesight?

We already know that 20-20 vision, although the average, isn’t the most common level of vision that most people achieve. 

There are a number of reasons why your eyesight might not quite reach the 20-20 mark:

  • Hyperopia – also known as farsightedness, whereby objects at a distance may be clear but objects close by may be blurry and difficult to focus on. 
  • Myopia – more commonly known as nearsightedness, where you would be able to see things clearly that a nearby, however, objects further in the distance are difficult to see and might be blurry.
  • Presbyopia – typically experienced by the older adult where things close up are difficult to make out. 
  • Astigmatism – this is the term used to describe the curvature in the eye which can cause blurry vision and regular headaches.

Can Vision Be Better Than 20-20?

Yes. Some people can have better than 20-20 vision. 

Although not common, some people have 20-15 or even 20-10 vision, meaning they can see something from 20 feet away that many people can only see from 10 or 15 feet away. 

Want To Find Out If You’re Suitable?

If you’re wondering whether laser eye treatment is the right choice for you, there are some key things to consider…

How is Visual Acuity Measured?

Visual Acuity is the measurement tool used to assess the eye’s ability to see letters, shapes, and numbers from a distance.

Typically, a Snellen Eye Chart is used to measure visual acuity within an eye exam.

This is the type of chart you would normally see at the optometrists where there are letters shown in different sizes. The Snellen chart, coined by Herman Snellen, a dutch ophthalmologist in the 1860s is the most common chart in the UK.

Visual Acuity should be measured from a distance, and only one eye should be tested at a time. 

The optometrist will ask you to cover one eye and use the other eye to read letters out starting from the top of the eye chart and working your way to the bottom until you can no longer make out the letters. This process is repeated on the other eye and then a visual acuity score is calculated.

Who is at Risk of Poor Eyesight?

Although poor eyesight can happen to anyone at any time, there are groups of people who are more at risk of having issues with their eyesight than others:

  • People with diabetesdiabetic retinopathy can be caused by increased blood sugar levels whereby the retina becomes damaged. 
  • People who have cataracts – where cloudy patches develop on the eye lens leading to blurry vision. 
  • People with glaucoma – damaged optic nerves lead to deterioration in eyesight. 
  • People who have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition – hypothyroidism can lead to dry eyes
  • People with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis  – inflammation of the optic nerve is common within people with multiple sclerosis and can lead to issues with eye coordination, blurred vision, and a decrease in colour vision.
  • People who are legally blind – those with an acuity score of 20/200 are considered legally blind and will require significant input from their optometrist.

Can Eyesight Improve Over Time?

Without treatment, eyesight will not improve on its own over time. 

Refractive errors such as farsightedness, nearsightedness, presbyopia, and astigmatism cannot improve on their own. 

Corrective action can be taken such as wearing glasses, having contact lenses, or having laser eye surgery. 

Although there is no cure for naturally occurring eyesight problems, there are a few steps you can follow to maintain healthy eyes:

  • Wear sunglasses – don’t take the risk of straining your eyes looking into the sun. Sunglasses will protect your eyes from the UV light coming from the sun. 
  • Maintain a balanced dietstudies show that maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is essential to good eye health. Evidence suggests that a balanced diet reduces the risk of other health risks such as obesity and therefore has an indirect impact on eye health. 
  • Ensure you have regular eye exams – having regular eye exams ensures that you are keeping on top of any deterioration to your eyesight and will be able to catch any issues before they become a problem.

Will I Have 20/20 Vision After Laser Eye Surgery?

The answer is YES, but that depends on the clinic and the eye surgeons who performs the treatment. 

For the past 3 years, 100% of Focus patients with typical short-sighted (myopic) prescriptions have achieved 20/20 vision with a single treatment. We do not know of any other clinic that has achieved this success rate.

(Prescriptions up to -8.00 and 2.00 dioptres of astigmatism, binocular vision 6 months post-op – see our full results and statistics.)

The goal of any refractive surgical procedure is to reduce or eliminate your dependence on corrective lenses. However, we cannot, nor can any clinic, guarantee you will have 20/20 vision as a result, although that is indeed the most common outcome our patients confirmed from our own results audit and published in a professional peer-reviewed journal.

To Conclude

There is no such thing as ‘normal’ or perfect vision and people have different vision ranges going from 20-20 being the average with people on either side of the average. 

Fortunately, for those who experience difficulties with their sight, there are a number of options to improve it including glasses, contact lenses, and laser eye surgery.

Our commitment to a 100% success rate for 20/20 and better has taken us to new levels of excellence in clinical outcomes. And while this does not guarantee your individual success, our results from the past 3 years will give you a high degree of confidence that you will attain a very clear unaided vision. These results are now undergoing a rigorous independent clinic audit and preparation for publication in a peer-review journal.

Our commitment to you is that we will not perform treatment on you or anyone we feel does not have an excellent possibility of achieving independence from glasses and contacts. Our team is risk-averse, meaning that we do not take chances ourselves or on your behalf.

The vast majority of our patients are extremely happy with their results and can do most activities without dependence on corrective lenses after vision correction. For typical short sight, 99.7% of patients can see better than 20/20 following their laser vision correction. See here for more about our results

About the Author

Mr David Allamby is the founder and medical director of Focus Clinic - the leading provider of laser eye surgery in London. Focus’ commitment is to be the #1 clinic for vision outcome results with 100% of patients achieving 20/20 vision or even better. He is one of a limited number of UK surgeons who work in laser refractive surgery full-time.


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