For this test, the eyes have it

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2012, 12:00am


Vision Test
Rating 9/10

One or more of my eyes failed the Visual Acuity Test, according to the Vision Test app. Not to be picky, but I think it should have been: 'One or both of your eyes' to save app users from feeling as if they were a modern-day Cyclops or Argus Panoptes.

Seeking an iPhone app to test my eyes, I had read about the Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment (Netra) app, developed by MIT Media Lab. The iPhone app required a simple adapter that would have cost about US$10 and, because of its relatively low cost and mobility, promised to bring accurate eye testing to millions in poorer parts of the world, which is very worthy.

However, Netra still hasn't made it to the iTunes Store, so I initially settled for the free Eyes Test app. Standing 1.5 metres away from your phone, the app runs you through an eye test using a traditional eye-chart-like graphic, and then with iPhone in hand again, you test yourself for colour blindness using the familiar numbers and coloured dots test. This proved fun for all the family; my vision is the worst, my kids' vision is apparently just fine, and my husband is very colour blind. All seemed acceptable until I tested the app on my iPad, and suddenly my vision was 20/20. The app clearly doesn't make any adjustment for the different screen sizes, and instantly lost credibility.

I then found Vision Test, which, according to the iTunes write-up, was the No1 medical app of 2010. This app tests for visual acuity, astigmatism, focusing ability and colour deficiency. The tests are run by holding your phone at arm's length, and then covering one eye and then the other while tapping your answer as you proceed through the tests.

I was sceptical when I scored 100 per cent for visual acuity, as I know I am shortsighted. However, if you can sync to an iPad, the app offers a further test for shortsightedness. I failed, so I was happy.

It's not designed to replace a visit to the optometrist, but makes a good pre-test.