Clinical Case Database / Category: Practical Procedure

Assessing visual acuity

Publication details

Dr James Bacon, Dr Alexander Foss, Dr. Neeru Dhillon
Foundation Years Journal, volume 4, issue 6, p.20 (123Doc Education, London, June 2010)


Assessing visual acuity is an aspect of ophthalmology which is commonly misunderstood. The following article demonstrates how to approach a patient with impaired vision including taking a history, assessing near and distance vision, and how to understand and interpret the results. The ability to accurately assess a patient's visual acuity is an essential skill for all doctors. To assess renal function, one would routinely test blood, urea and electrolyte levels. There is, however, no blood test for the eye and visual acuity is the most sensitive method to ascertain ocular function.

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Dr James Bacon

Ophthalmology Registrar
Diana Princess of Wales Hospital

Dr Alexander Foss

Ophthalmology consultant

Dr. Neeru Dhillon

FY2 Doctor
Queen Medical Centre
Derby Road


1. snellen_visual_acuity_chart.jpg
2. Elkington AR. Frank HJ. Greaney MJ. (1999) Clinical Optics 3rd edn.


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Patient Consent statement

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T​he Foundation Years Clinical Cases Database is​ a selection of 600 peer-reviewed clinical cases in the field of patient safety and clinical practice, specifically focused on the clinical information needs of junior doctors, based around the Foundation Year Curriculum programme (MMC). The cases have been chosen to align with the Foundation Year Curriculum.

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