PURPOSE: To evaluate microscopically whether the print quality and accuracy of sizing of Landolt ring near vision charts are adequate for the calibration of reading charts.
METHODS: Near vision charts with Landolt rings from Oculus GmbH (C-Test; Wetzlar, Germany), Precision Vision (Woodstock, IL) and the RADNER Charts were examined, as well as custom-made Landolt rings optimized for print quality. Microscopic investigations and measurements were performed by using a Huvitz HSZ 600 stereomicroscope (Nikon NIS Elements software) to evaluate the height of the Landolt rings, the thickness of the lines, and the width of the openings. The deviations from the mathematically correct values, which were calculated as given in the EN/ISO 8596 and by the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO), were analyzed (calculated for a test distance of 40 cm).
RESULTS: All the near vision charts showed notable deficiencies in print quality and aberrations from the nominal values in the height, thickness of the lines, and width of the openings. The openings were too narrow, whereas the height and thickness of the lines were larger than the nominal values. Even the openings of Landolt rings optimized for print quality were not always within an acceptable 5% tolerance and need further improvement.
CONCLUSION: This study reports inaccuracies in the heights, thicknesses of the lines, and widths of the openings of Landolt rings in all the near vision charts investigated. The extent of these inaccuracies excludes such near vision charts as reference tests for the calibration of reading charts. The x-height in relation to the visual angle still seems to be the most reliable method for standardizing the print sizes for reading charts.