Self-Estimating Visual Acuity

Certain visual acuities have special significance. Some of these are:

      20/20 vision is considered normal vision

      20/40 vision in at least one eye is the vision required to pass the driving test

      20/200 vision or worse is the legal definition of blindness

The chart below may be used by a customer to estimate his/her vision online.




1.  Measure the blue bar in centimeters on the computer screen.

2.  Step back to approximately the same number of feet from the computer screen. For example, if the blue bar measures 5 centimeters, the customer should stand 5 feet from the computer screen.

3.  If the customer wears glasses or contacts to operate a motor vehicle, he/she should use them when taking the test.

4.  Cover one eye and read the letters in row three (the third row from the top) from right to left. The vision test should be performed on each eye separately.


The third line is equivalent to 20/40 vision. The customer must be able to read most of the letters on this line in order to obtain an unrestricted Massachusetts Driver's License. If he/she cannot read line three, the customer may be required to submit a vision screening certificate completed by a physician or optometrist who is licensed to practice in Massachusetts. The vision screening certificate cannot be more than 12 months old from the date of the screening. A copy of the Vision Screening Certificate Form is available online here.


The middle letter of the top line is equivalent to 20/200. A person unable to read this letter with best eyeglass correction is considered legally blind. The "T" and the "B" on the top line are equivalent to 20/100. The second line is 20/50. Best corrected acuity in the range between 20/50 and 20/100 is considered disabling in occupations which require work with numbers or extensive reading.


The bottom three lines represent 20/30, 20/20 and 20/10. These are considered to be "normal vision" with the 20/20 line being the traditional normal vision line.


It is generally felt that the maximum visual acuity of the eye is around 20/15 or 20/16. This means that if the customer is able to read the bottom line, he/she is probably a good guesser.


Note that this vision test can only be considered a self-screening test, and is meant to give a customer an approximate idea of his/her vision capabilities. A variety of factors such as lighting, glare, monitor quality may have an effect on the results of this test. This does not constitute an RMV-approved vision test, and passing this test does not necessarily mean that a customer will pass the vision test at an RMV Service Center.


Source: University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary, 2009.