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The iconic eye chart poster was a simple solution for what was once a major problem.

And while eye charts are the first step toward diagnosing vision impairment, they have come a long way from their humble beginnings.

Who Knew? The Fascinating History of the Eye Chart

Imagine this: it’s sometime in the 1700s and you have a feeling your eyesight might not be as sharp as it once was.

So, you travel to an eyeglass vendor—or wait for a peddler to knock on your door—and try on multiple “nose glasses” (glasses without arms) from their basket until you find a pair that seemingly helps your vision. To help you find the right pair, many of these vendors separate their spectacles by age groups, as it is believed at this time that vision fades at the same rate.

Well, it wasn’t until the 1800s that the impact of vision impairment and the need for bespoke lenses was made evident. This was why Dr. Franciscus Donders asked his colleague and Dutch eye doctor, Herman Snellen, to create a chart that would help determine the level of a patient’s vision problems.

The method was simple: patients would stand a certain distance from the chart and tell the doctor what they were able to read. Snellen’s first attempt at the eye chart was made up of wacky symbols in different sizes—but it was deemed too complicated for a patient to describe.

So, Snellen created the letter eye chart: 11 rows of capitalized letters, the first line with the largest letter and each row beneath decreasing in size.

Snellen also created the “Tumbling E” chart for individuals who couldn’t read. This eye chart was made of different sized rows of the capital letter “E,” pointing in different directions. The patient simply had to point to which direction the “fingers” of each capital E were facing.

Before the standardized eye chart, ophthalmic professionals each used different methods to test vision acuity. Snellen’s eye chart allowed for consistency and accuracy for a rising problem during an industrial boom throughout the world.

A Quick Overview: The Eye Chart

Eye charts measure visual acuity—essentially the sharpness of a patient’s vision.

Traditionally, the patient stands 20 feet away from the eye chart, covers one eye, reads the smallest line of letters he or she can see, and repeats this with the other eye. Today, many doctors don’t have 20 feet of space in their office, so it is common to use a projector and a mirror to display the chart instead.

Veatch’s Eye Charts and Visual Acuity Systems

Eye charts have certainly come a long way from the 1800s. Now, technology allows for projecting the charts across the room and changeable, randomized slide selections to avoid memorization and increase accuracy.

Some of our visual acuity devices include:

Take a glance at our inventory:

Automated Chart Projector

The Potec PACP-7000L chart projector provides accurate and efficient visual acuity testing.

  • Ease of use
  • 42 charts available
  • Individual keys for each chart via infra-red control
  • Brighter and sharper image
  • LED Illumination
  • Computerized Visual Acuity Systems
  • Offers a large variety of chart charts.

Computerized Visual Acuity Systems

Haag-Streit Stimuli V4 Projector

The Haag-Streit Stimuli™ is a refraction device that replaces old technology: the automated projector. Stimuli™ eliminates the "memory effect" by bringing virtually unlimited charts to the patient in a random manner. All functions are at the practitioners' fingertips.

Reichert ClearChart 4

The all-new family of ClearChart® Digital Acuity Systems from Reichert® are all-in-one, elegant, simple-to-use, and uniquely designed to meet all your acuity testing needs with a wide selection of optotypes and other special test charts.

  • New 24-inch, high-resolution, LED backlit display
  • Lightweight
  • Cool running and long-lasting.
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Controlled from easy-to-use infrared remote or via the Phoroptor® VRx Digital Refraction System

Reichert ClearChart 4P Polarized

The ClearChart 4P Polarized Digital Acuity System features a new polarized 24-inch, high-resolution, LED backlit display, is lightweight, cool running, and long-lasting.
Additional features include:

  • Stereo testing
  • Color vision testing
  • ETDRS testing
  • Patient education images
  • Ability to import images and video

Reichert ClearChart 4X Enhanced

The ClearChart 4X Enhanced Digital Acuity System features a new 24-inch, high-resolution, LED backlit display, is lightweight, cool running, and long-lasting.
Additional features include:

  • ETDRS testing
  • Patient education images
  • Ability to import images and video.

Sirius Visual Acuity Software Kit

Sirius Plus replaces all your charts and tests with one easy-to-use visual acuity testing product. With tests ranging from customizable, randomized acuity charts to complex visual diagnostic tests, 20/20 Vision is suitable for optometry, ophthalmology, and clinical research alike.

  • Optotypes: Sloan, Numbers, HOTV, Allen pictures (pediatric), Patti Pics (pediatric), Tumbling E's, Landolt C's, Lower-case, Concentric circles
  • Display Modes: Single Character (with crowding), Single Line, Multi Line, Single column, Multi Line (Same Size), Single Column (Same Size)
  • Vision Tests: Worth 4-Dot, Advanced Contrast Testing, Color Test, Dynamic Cross Chart, Astigmatic Clock-dial, Astigmatic Shower-drain, Binocular Balance, Many more
  • Fixation Options: Fixation Dot, Color-shifting, Slideshows (customizable), Movies (customizable)
  • Precision Vision Patti Pics
  • Cutting-edge pediatric optotypes
  • EyeMotion 3D Patient Education Animations

Sirius Visual Acuity System iMac

The Sirius Visual Acuity System places a wide range of acuity tests into one simple to use product. Sirius randomizes all optotypes to prevent memorization and provides a high technology addition to your exam room.
Includes a standard selection collection of nature videos, simple 3D animations for children, scenic views, planet images, and ocular pathology slides.

  • Single line letter acuity charts
  • Multi line letter acuity charts
  • Customizable optotypes
  • Children’s optotypes
  • Non-English speaking optotypes
  • Efficient easy-to-use interface
  • Quick chart keys for easy use
  • Snellen, ETDRS, and Bailey-Lovie standards
  • Calibrate in LogMAR, feet, decimals, and metric
  • Scalable to match your room size
  • Fixation video loops
  • Educational videos
  • Advertising videos

Potec PLC-8000 Visual Acuity System

The PLC-7000 LCD Acuity Chart is a dedicated refracting device which provides accurate and precise visual acuities...PLUS:

  • Slim design makes wall mount installation easy with the modern 19-inch LCD monitor
  • High resolution of the PLC-7000 allows for clearer, high performance acuity presentations
  • Available 38 image slide show functionality via USB
  • Included remote control adjusts the test distance anywhere from 8ft. - 20ft
  • Easily adjust between functions

InSight Visual Acuity System

The InSight Visual Acuity System is the first LCD Acuity that does not require a PC. The system includes animation and the charts can be set to randomize for patients who may have memorized the chart. In addition, you now have the option of a static chart, this chart presents the same opto types from your typical manual projector and does not randomize.

Manual Chart Projectors

Marco Used Projector

Reichert Double Tube Used Projector

Used Reichert manual chart projector has focusable projector tube to fit most any exam room. Save with quality used equipment.

Reichert Longlife Unit Projector

Reichert's Longlife projector set new standards as the first manual projector on the market to offer a halogen bulb. The Longlife POC features an improved electro-optical system to project a brighter, more even image on the screen, delivering superior images.

  • Long life bulb
  • Quick change socket design
  • Bright, white, even illumination
  • Solid state internal components
  • Simple installation

Visual Acuity Accessories

From projector slides to screens to remotes, Veatch has a long list of visual acuity accessories.
Take a look at the full inventory

Veatch: Service and Repair

While Veatch is a leading provider of eye charts and visual acuity systems, we also offer general maintenance and repair services—a huge long-term benefit to customers.

Our technicians have more than 60 years of combined experience, and are available to meet many of your practice’s needs, including:

Setting up your practice: Veatch technicians help maximize your efficiency, optimize the placement for electrical needs, and recalibrate pieces once the move is done.

General maintenance: To help prevent problems down the road, technicians are available for general maintenance.

Repairs: If your piece needs more in-depth repairs, Veatch technicians are factory-trained and highly skilled in working with the intricate technological instruments. There is both local and remote support, and the company offers a unique loaner program that allows practices to rent equipment until their repairs are complete. If the piece is still under warranty, practices may even be able to rent the machine for free.

View Veatch’s Entire Visual Acuity Inventory Here.