Visual acuity of the preschool child: a review

Am J Optom Physiol Opt. 1986 May;63(5):319-45. doi: 10.1097/00006324-198605000-00003.


The need for visual acuity assessment in preschool children has long been recognized, yet there are no standardized visual acuity norms or screening criteria. This report reviews the literature on distance visual acuity in the preschool child. The areas of review include: methods of assessment of visual acuity; visual acuity norms obtained with these tests; reasons for the variations in reported visual acuity norms; variations in referral criteria for vision screenings; testability reported for various visual acuity tests; and important design principles and recommendations for preschool visual acuity tests. It is concluded that a well designed preschool visual acuity test should consist of high contrast Snellen optotypes without directional components that progress in 0.1 log steps down to a level of 6/3. To improve testability, a matching or forced choice response should be used. Of the tests that have been standardized, STY-CAR (Sheridan-Gardiner) comes closest to meeting these criteria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Reference Values
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Refraction, Ocular
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Vision Tests / methods
  • Visual Acuity*