Is “20/20” Perfect Vision?

Once your eye exam is over, and the results are 20/20, does this mean your vision is perfect? Is there such a thing as a better vision score? And if so, what is “perfect” vision, anyway?

The best way to answer these questions is to have a working understanding of vision terminology. Here’s a closer look at how eye doctors measure your vision and eyesight.

Visual Acuity

Vision sharpness, or the ability to identify numbers and letters off an eye chart, is visual acuity. It is the measurement of vision clarity while sitting still. Eye doctors test visual acuity under high-contrast conditions, meaning the letters and numbers you read are black, and the background is white.

Although visual acuity is useful for determining eyesight clarity under standardized conditions, it doesn’t measure vision quality in all situations – as in when objects are moving, colored, or similar in brightness to their background.


The exact definition of this term is difficult to pin down. A dictionary may state its meaning as “range of sight” or “ability to see.” You might hear people use the terms “visual acuity” and “eyesight” interchangeably.


This term has a broader definition than eyesight or visual acuity. It includes a wide range of visual abilities and skills, including color vision, depth perception, contrast sensitivity, focusing speed and accuracy, and more.

If we apply this more accurate definition of vision, then, we should say “20/20 visual acuity,” instead of “20/20 vision.” However, more people understand and use the term “20/20 vision,” so it’s here to stay.

What Is Perfect Vision?

It’s virtually impossible to measure what perfect vision is. More noteworthy would be to ask, “Perfect for what?”

For example, suppose you were driving on a sunny day. In that case, excellent visual acuity might be the main component of satisfactory vision. But if your traveling companion has lower visual acuity than you, they might be happier because they are wearing polarized sunglasses that enhance contrast and block glare.

Athletes who have better than 20/20 vision may struggle with performance if their dynamic visual skills don’t allow them to react to moving objects as quickly as teammates whose static visual acuity isn’t as sharp.

How Do These Concepts Apply to You?

The first step to maximizing your eyesight’s comfort and clarity in every situation is to consult with a board-certified ophthalmologist for a complete eye exam for vision evaluation.

If you are interested in learning about laser vision correction and how it can sharpen your vision better than contacts or glasses, schedule a consultation with Portland LASIK eye surgeon Dr.  Brian Will.

Take advantage and receive a complimentary screening examination at Will Vision and Laser Centers in one of our convenient locations in Vancouver and Salem.