Friday, December 10, 2010

Plea for updated picture eyechart

Last week I was talking to a friend of mine whose little girl that also wears glasses & patches. It has been  such a blessing for Belle and I to have someone local to go through this together with (but that's a whole new post).  So...  she and I were talking about our latest trips to the eye doctor for the girls and comparing notes. My friend shared with me that her daughter has a hard time with the picture eye chart which makes the appointment challenging. Oh Boy, could I relate to this!  Now, thankfully as she is a bit older, Belle now primarily uses the letter and directional charts. But on occasion when she has had to use the picture chart her responses to the pictures can be quite puzzling and a bit comical. In fact, the responses often don't indicate whether she can see or not - moreso that she has no idea what the picture is supposed to be.

In particular this picture from the children's eyechart sorely needs updating. 

Would your preschool or young child know what this is?

This is a phone.    
It seems so simple but most kids these days would get this wrong.

When was the last time you used a rotary phone? Has your child ever seen a rotary phone?   My daughter hadn't and I had to explain this picture to her.  It was funny because when she saw Toy Story 3 and the Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone character she made a comment that "it was the phone from the eyechart".

It is definitely time for the phone picture to get updated,  perhaps with something like this:


  1. I'm totally with you on this! There's probably some complicated geometry behind the designs they choose, just like how they choose the letters for eye charts, but come on! The phone is awful and so is the car. My kids refer to the birthday cake as a swimming pool. I give the doctor a nod on that one because as long as my kids call it something consistently, that's all that should matter.

  2. Agree. We had to study for our test. They sent home a practice chart and she didn't believe me that that was a phone.

  3. Thanks for posting this. I really can't believe that they can't think of any other pictures to use for the test. The pictures should be simple. But a rotary phone is crazy. And because they stenciled pictures, it is that much harder. Like, if it were a real picture, the kids might recognize it. But the problem with all of these photos is, when Payton gets one photo wrong and the doctor tells her she is wrong, she won't tell him any of the other pictures because she is embarrassed and feels dumb.
    And my husband did have to practice with Payton during one visit because she didn't know any of the photos. Besides the rotary phone, my lease favorite is a picture of a horse with a jockey on it, but the horse has one leg bent slightly. What little kid is going to know what that is. It is horrible.
    I feel like my daughter has to deal with enough stress daily with the glasses and her patches. She doesn't want to go to the eye doctor to begin with, but I'm sure it doesn't help when she doesn't recognize any photos on the chart. It is upsetting to me.

  4. Daisy - the good test-givers I've seen will respond positively to a child even when they get it wrong. Yours is evidence again that doctors are not necessarily good at things besides being doctors.

  5. Belle thinks the cake is a swimming pool also and she says the car is a skateboard. The phone she had no idea - I think she called it a space ship one time!!!

    They really need to make these icons a bit more current!

  6. The Allen picture chart is not very good for lots of reasons, including it has been shown to be not very accurate. The Kay Picture Test is used in lots of countries, but only recently a little in the US. The pictures have to conform to the science that makes them accurate, so the lines have to be a certain width and very consistent. In a few weeks you'll be able to buy an iPhone/iPad app that has letters and Kay Pictures to test your child at home. It has been designed by eye doctors in the UK and made so that non-prefessionals can do a test when their child is willing. The app explains exactly what you need to do to ensure you test in the right conditions, it has a simple yes/no if the child can see the picture or letter and it explains what the results mean and whether it means the vision is normal, or you should seek further professional advice. Look out for it on itunes. The iSight Test.