Stories From the Clinic

by Emily C. Lierman. Stories From the Clinic was first published in 1926.


  1. Every home should have a test card.
  2. It is best to place the card permanently on the wall in a good light.
  3. Each member of the family or household should read the card every day.
  4. It takes only a minute to test the sight with the card. If you spend five minutes in the morning practicing, it will be a great help during the day.
  5. Place yourself ten feet from the card and read as far as you can without effort or strain. Over each line of letters are small figures indicating the distance at which the normal eye can read them. Over the big C at the top of the card is the figure 200. The big C, therefore, should be read by the normal eye at a distance of two hundred feet. If you can read this line at ten feet, your vision would be 10/200. The numerator of the fraction is always the distance of the card from the eyes. The denominator always denotes the number of the line read. If you can only read the line marked 40 at ten feet, the vision is 10/40.
  6. If you can only see to the fifth line, for example, notice that the last letter on that line is an R. Now close your eyes, cover them with the palms of the hands and remember the R. If you will remember that the left side is straight, the right side partly curved, and the bottom open, you will get a good mental picture of the R with your eyes closed. This mental picture will help you to see the letter directly underneath the R, which is a T.
  7. Shifting is good to stop the stare. It you stare at the letter T, you will notice that all the letters on that line begin to blur. It is beneficial to close your eyes quickly after you see the T, open them, and shift to the first figure on that tine, which is a 3. Then close your eyes and remember the 3. You will become able to read all the letters on that line by closing your eyes for each letter.
  8. Keep a record of each test in order to note your progress from day to day.
  9. When you become able to read the bottom line with each eye at ten feet, your vision is normal for the distance, 10/10.
  10. The distance of the Snellen test card from the patient is a matter of considerable importance. However, some patients improve more rapidly when the card is placed fifteen or twenty feet away, while others fail to get any benefit with the card at this distance. In some cases the best results are obtained when the card is as close as one foot. Others with poor vision may not improve when the card is placed at ten feet or further, or at one foot or less, but do much better when the card is placed at a middle distance, at about eight feet. Some patients may not improve their vision at all at ten feet, but are able to improve their sight at twenty feet, or at one foot. While some patients are benefited by practicing with the card daily, always at the same distance, there are others who seem to be benefited when the distance of the card from the patient is changed daily.
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