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20/30 Vision: What Does It Mean and Do I Need Corrective Lenses?

If a doctor tests your eyes and the results say you have 20/30 vision, it means that your vision is slightly worse than that of a person with normal eyesight (20/20).

woman eyesight testing

A person with 20/30 vision needs to move 10 feet closer to an object than someone who has 20/20 sight.

The World Health Organization considers 20/30 to be mild vision loss, and more than 4.2 million Americans aged 40 years and older have it.

What Does 20/30 Vision Mean?

20/30 vision is a measurement of vision clarity and strength, not a condition. You obtain the score after undergoing a visual acuity test administered by a qualified eyecare professional.

Visual acuity is the measure of the eye’s clarity and sharpness. A person with normal eyesight will have a 20/20 vision after performing the test.

The numbers 20 and 30 mean: Someone with 20/30 vision needs to move 10 feet closer to an object to see it as clear as someone who has 20/20 eyesight.

An ophthalmologist (eye doctor) performs the test using a Snellen chart. It is an eye chart containing letters and numbers written in different sizes. The doctor will tell you to stand 20 feet from the Snellen chart and read its letters.

The upper number represents the distance you will stand from the Snellen chart. In most cases, this distance is 20 feet (6 meters). The bottom number represents the distance a person with normal eyesight would see the letters you are reading.

The World Health Organization classifies people with 20/30 vision as having mild vision loss. The status is more common among older people and affects more than 4.2 million Americans aged 40 years and above.

What is the Difference Between 20/20 and 20/30?

Although 20/30 vision is close to the standard of 20/20, it does not require drastic correction for someone to see normally. People with 20/30 vision it need glasses to see clearly. But those with 20/20 vision can see well without glasses. 

When Is 20/30 Vision Not Enough?

Although 20/30 vision means having decreased optical power, but it doesn’t mean that you’re going blind. It just means you need help with your eyesight to accomplish some parts of your daily life without too much hassle.

With a 20/30 vision, you can still do the following without assistance:

  • Normal household chores
  • Read in moderate light

Instances where 20/30 vision can limit you from conducting some activities include:

  • Driving at night
  • Telling colors apart
  • Flying planes
  • Working in some jobs such as the police force 
  • Using your electronic displays such as the television and computers

Do You Need Glasses, Corrective Lenses or LASIK Surgery for 20/30 Vision?

Having 20/30 vision does affect your lifestyle, and it can prevent you from getting your dream job. However, it would be best not to stress so much about your low vision as there are different ways the physicians can correct your 20/30 vision: 

Correct 20/30 Vision Through LASIK Surgery

Lasik is a type of laser eye surgery that treats different eye conditions that cause low vision. The surgery will enable you to see clearly without the need for eyeglasses.

LASIK can help correct your 20/30 visions. But there’s no guarantee that you will have your vision corrected after the surgery. You may not get a 20/20 vision. But the chances of your vision improving from 20/30 are astronomical.

The surgery is also not suitable for everyone. Some factors that might disqualify you from getting LASIK are:

  • You are younger than 18 years old
  • You have pre-existing eye ailments
  • You have an active career or job, such as police service
  • You consistently play certain sports such as wrestling or boxing

Correct 20/30 Vision with Eyeglasses

Using glasses is the safest and most affordable way to correct 20/30 vision. The American Academy of Ophthalmology says about 75 percent of adults gain normal eyesight when wearing glasses. 

Glasses are thus one of the most effective methods of correcting low vision. Spectacles can also help correct other conditions, such as farsightedness. 

Correct 20/30 Vision with Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are also another way of correcting 20/30 vision, especially for people who do not like wearing glasses. Contact lenses work the same way as glasses but are more expensive. The lenses are fit for individuals who conduct many physical activities in their lives.

References

  1. Low Vision and Vision Rehabilitation. (Retrieved January 2022). American Optometric Association.

  2. Vision Health Initiative (VHI). (June 2020). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

  3. What Does 20/20 Vision Mean? (May 2021). MedicineNet.

  4. Visual acuity test. (January 2022). National Library of Medicine.

  5. Low Vision. (May 2020). National Eye Institute.

  6. Police Vision Standards. (Retrieved January 2022). Office of Justice Programs

  7. Blindness and Vision Impairments in the Workplace and the ADA. (July 2014). U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

  8. Laser Surgery Can Improve Vision Problems. (Retrieved January 2022). University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester.

  9. What Does 20/20 Vision Mean? (January 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  10. 20/20 Vision. (April 2018). Cleveland Clinic.

Last Updated March 1, 2022

Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.