Simplified Method for Rapid Field Assessment of Visual Acuity by First Responders after Ocular Injury

Nikhil J. Godbole, Erin S. Seefeldt, William R. Raymond, James W. Karesh, Andrew Morgenstern, Jo Ann Egan, Marcus H. Colyer, Robert A. Mazzoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective Initial visual acuity after ocular injury is an important measure, as it is an accurate predictor of final visual outcome and gives a rapid estimation of the overall severity of the injury, thereby aiding evacuation prioritization. We devised a simple method for rapidly assessing visual acuity in the field without having to rely on formal screening cards. Methods Using common objects, icons, and text found in the injury zone - for example, common military name tapes, rank insignias, patches, emblems, and helmet camouflage bands, which will be known collectively as the Army Combat Optotypes (ACOs) - a Snellen-equivalent method of assessing visual acuity was devised and correlated to the ocular trauma score (OTS). Results Ability to read the ACOs at 2, 3, and 5 ft correlates with acuities in the range from 20/20 to 20/400. Identification of ACOs with visual acuity of 20/50 and 20/200 approximates important inflection points of severity for the OTS. Conclusion Accurately assessing visual acuity in the field after ocular injury provides essential information but does not require sophisticated screening equipment. Pertinent and accurate acuities can be rapidly estimated using commonly available text or graphical icons such as standard name tapes, patches, and rank insignias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-223
Number of pages5
JournalMilitary Medicine
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Army Combat Optotype
  • Human
  • Military
  • Ocular trauma
  • Visual acuity


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