How to assess vision
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence & Practice    

How to assess vision

Janet Marsden Professor of ophthalmology and emergency care, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, England

Rationale and key points

An objective assessment of the patient’s vision is important to assess variation from ‘normal’ vision in acute and community settings, to establish a baseline before examination and treatment in the emergency department, and to assess any changes during ophthalmic outpatient appointments.

Vision is one of the essential senses that permits people to make sense of the world.

Visual assessment does not only involve measuring central visual acuity, it also involves assessing the consequences of reduced vision.

Assessment of vision in children is crucial to identify issues that might affect vision and visual development, and to optimise lifelong vision.

Untreatable loss of vision is not an inevitable consequence of ageing.

Timely and repeated assessment of vision over life can reduce the incidence of falls, prevent injury and optimise independence.

Reflective activity

‘How to’ articles can help update you practice and ensure it remains evidence based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on and write a short account of:

How this article might change your practice when assessing people holistically.

How you could use this article to educate your colleagues in the assessment of vision.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2016.e10530


Peer review

All articles are subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Received: 17 April 2016

Accepted: 03 June 2016

Published online: 03 September 2016

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