The Auckland Optotypes: An open-access pictogram set for measuring recognition acuity

J Vis. 2018 Mar 1;18(3):13. doi: 10.1167/18.3.13.


When measuring recognition acuity in a research setting, the most widely used symbols are the Early Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) set of 10 Sloan letters. However, the symbols are not appropriate for patients unfamiliar with letters, and acuity for individual letters is variable. Alternative pictogram sets are available, but are generally comprised of fewer items. We set out to develop an open-access set of 10 pictograms that would elicit more consistent estimates of acuity across items than the ETDRS letters from visually normal adults. We measured monocular acuity for individual uncrowded optotypes within a newly designed set (The Auckland Optotype [TAO]), the ETDRS set, and Landolt Cs. Eleven visually normal adults were assessed on regular and vanishing formats of each set. Inter-optotype reliability and ability to detect subtle differences between participants were assessed using intraclass correlations (ICC) and fractional rank precision (FRP). The TAO vanishing set showed the strongest performance (ICC = 0.97, FRP = 0.90), followed by the other vanishing sets (Sloan ICC = 0.88, FRP = 0.74; Landolt ICC = 0.86, FRP = 0.80). Within the regular format, TAO again outperformed the existing sets (TAO ICC = 0.77, FRP = 0.75; Sloan ICC = 0.65, FRP = 0.64; Landolt ICC = 0.48, FRP = 0.63). For adults with normal visual acuity, the new optotypes (in both regular and vanishing formats) are more equally legible and sensitive to subtle individual differences than their Sloan counterparts. As this set does not require observers to be able to name Roman letters, and is freely available to use and modify, it may have wide application for measurement of acuity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • New Zealand
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Vision Tests / instrumentation*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*
  • Young Adult