Eye Charts in Popular Culture
Growing up, I saw more than my fair share of the optometrist’s office. My dad is an optometrist, so my brothers and I were plenty familiar with the exam rooms, the walls of stylish frames flanked by mirrors, and of course the phoropter.
But there is one piece of optometric design that I can’t claim to have seen more than anyone else: the visual acuity chart. You know, the one the eye doctor uses to check your vision, with the lines of increasingly smaller letters. It’s everywhere.
On Etsy you can find eye chart greeting cards, cookie cutters, and charm earrings to name but a few. Do a quick search for “eye chart” and you’ll see what we mean.
It famously featured in a scene from the 2001 film America’s Sweethearts in which the visual acuity chart spells out “I-L-O-V-E-Y-O-U.”
The chart imposes some fairly strict creative limitations but offers a format that is instantly recognizable to the general public. Much like a Venn diagram, it is a playground for creativity. And a breeding ground for visual puns.
If you’re curious about some of the history of the eye chart, we’ve got you covered.
I’m pretty sure my dad had a necktie with those big black block letters printed on it. In Dad’s defense, it was the 90’s, they put anything and everything on neckties. Hindsight is 2020.