Purpose: Lea (LH) symbols seem to be favourable for visual acuity assessment in childhood. The symbols of the LH test are well standardized and applicable to preschool children. We compared the visual acuity determined by LH single symbols (LH) and the acuity measured with the Landolt-C (LC).
Patients and methods: 138 cooperative subjects aged 7 to 91 years were examined. Their visual acuity was either normal or reduced due to various etiologies. Their refractive error was corrected. The monocular LH and LC were determined by a 3/4 criterion (study 1). In 19 healthy subjects aged 21 to 58 years, acuity was reduced stepwise by 5 different calibrated occlusives (study 2). A Lighthouse single symbol book (LH symbols) was used at a distance of 3 m. LC was determined at a distance of 5 m. The luminance of the test field was 180-200 cd/m2. The right eye of each patient and the amblyopic eye of the squinting patients was taken for statistical evaluation. The strabismic patients' interocular differences of LC and LH were compared.
Results: Within study 1, LC ranged from 0.02 to 2.0 and LH from 0.03 to 2.5. LH overestimated LC by 1.4 lines on an average (t-test p < 0.0001). The regression equation lgLH = 0.95 lgLC + 0.11 describes a high correlation (r = 0.95) between LH and LC. The relations between LH and LC of 43 strabismic amblyopic patients and the remaining subjects did not significantly differ. Due to the criterion of an interocular LH-difference > 1 line, 85.7% resp. 90% of the strabismic amblyopic patients with an interocular LC difference > 1 resp > 2 lines were detected. In study 2, LC ranged from 0.1 to 1.6, LH from 0.12 to 2.0. The mean difference LH-LC was 1.3 lines. The regression equation was lgLH = 0.91 lgLC + 0.08 (r = 0.95).
Conclusion: LH symbols allow a reliable measurement of recognition acuity. Due to the design of the symbols, they are excellently suitable for application to preschool children. Age related normal values should be established. The systematic difference between the LC acuity and the LH acuity measured with the Lighthouse LH single symbol book by 1.4 lines has to be considered.