Validation of Home Visual Acuity Tests for Telehealth in the COVID-19 Era

Kellyn N. Bellsmith, Michael J. Gale, Sen Yang, Isabelle B. Nguyen, Christa J. Prentiss, Luan T. Nguyen, Sam Mershon, Allison I. Summers, Merina Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Importance: Visual acuity (VA) is one of the most important clinical data points in ophthalmology. However, few options for validated at-home VA assessments are currently available. Objective: To validate 3 at-home visual acuity tests in comparison with in-office visual acuity. Design, Setting, and Participants: Between July 2020 and April 2021, eligible participants with VA of 20/200 or better were recruited from 4 university-based ophthalmology clinics (comprehensive, cornea, glaucoma, and retina clinics). Participants were prospectively randomized to self-administer 2 of 3 at-home VA tests (printed chart, mobile phone app, and website) within 3 days before their standard-of-care clinic visit. Participants completed a survey assessing usability of the at-home tests. At the clinic visit, best-corrected Snellen distance acuity was measured as the reference standard. Main Outcomes and Measures: The at-home VA test results were compared with the in-office VA test results using paired and unpaired t tests, Pearson correlation coefficients, analysis of variance, χ2 tests, and Cohen κ agreement. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of each at-home test were calculated to detect significant VA changes (≥0.2 logMAR) from the in-office baseline. Results: A total of 121 participants with a mean (SD) age of 63.8 (13.0) years completed the study. The mean in-office VA was 0.11 logMAR (Snellen equivalent 20/25) with similar numbers of participants from the 4 clinics. Mean difference (logMAR) between the at-home test and in-office acuity was-0.07 (95% CI,-0.10 to-0.04) for the printed chart,-0.12 (95% CI,-0.15 to-0.09) for the mobile phone app, and-0.13 (95% CI,-0.16 to-0.10) for the website test. The Pearson correlation coefficient for the printed chart was 0.72 (95% CI, 0.62-0.79), mobile phone app was 0.58 (95% CI, 0.46-0.69), and website test was 0.64 (95% CI, 0.53-0.73). Conclusions and Relevance: The 3 at-home VA test results (printed chart, mobile phone app, and website) appeared comparable within 1 line to in-office VA measurements. Older participants were more likely to have limited access to digital tools. Further development and validation of at-home VA testing modalities is needed with the expansion of teleophthalmology care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-471
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA ophthalmology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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