Like a high credit score or a job promotion, 20/20 vision is something you might flex when you’re around friends. But as Dr. Vivienne Velasco of iFocus Vision Center explains, 20/20 vision doesn’t make you a superhero, and it certainly doesn’t give you an excuse to skip your annual eye exam.

“Vision and eye health don’t always go hand-in-hand,” explains the Las Vegas-based optometrist, who recommends a comprehensive eye exam yearly beginning at six months of age.

Culturally, we’ve been conditioned to believe 20/20 is the best vision possible – the phrase “Hindsight is 20/20” practically suggests that perfect vision could have predicted your future. However, it is only a measurement of high visual acuity (clarity or sharpness of vision), and, as usual, you’ve got to look closer to see the whole story.

What is 20/20 Vision?

When a person has 20/20 vision, it means that he or she can see an object of a certain size clearly at a distance of 20 feet. On a Snellen Eye Chart each row that you are able to read clearly is an indication of your visual acuity. The eighth row of the chart, when read clearly, indicates 20/20 vision. Alternatively, if someone has 20/200 vision, what they can see clearly at 20 feet, a person with 20/20 vision can see from 200 feet away.

“Visual acuity is just one of several visual abilities,” Dr. Velasco says. “Eye-muscle coordination, visual perception, visual tracking – these and other factors tell the bigger story of your vision.”

So, 20/20 Vision is Not “Perfect” Vision?

“No,” she explains. “You can see double, have astigmatism, be nearsighted or farsighted and still have 20/20 vision.”

Dr. Velasco will test visual acuity during a comprehensive eye exam, but she’ll also be testing your eyes for depth perception, refractive status, dilation, and eye muscle teaming; as well as the signs of eye disease and visual impairment.

Do I Still Need an Eye Exam If I Have 20/20 Vision?

Yes. Vision and eye health don’t always go hand in hand.

“You can have an eye disease, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration — even retinal tears or holes, and still have 20/20 vision,” Dr. Velasco says.

 The aforementioned eye chart, despite measuring the clarity of your vision, is incapable of determining the health of your eye. To see those results, Dr. Velasco will perform a dilated eye exam and can also use Optomap® ultra-widefield retinal imaging, a non-invasive test that allows her to detect early signs of retinal disease and other sight-threatening conditions.

But How Do I Get 20/20 Vision?

Fortunately, there are many ways to achieve 20/20 vision, including prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, and orthokeratology, a specially-designed set of corneal reshaping lenses that you wear while you sleep.

Dr. Velasco will assess your refractive status during your eye exam and determine a prescription that can help you see more clearly. She warns, however, that these corrective measures cannot fix every problem, as factors such as cataracts, amblyopia (“lazy eye”), and macular degeneration can negatively impact your vision.

“This is why a comprehensive eye health exam is important to have with a refraction test,” she says.

Questions about your vision? Call 702-473-5660 or book an appointment online at the iFocus Vision Center website.