Article Date: 3/1/2012

Provide an Illuminating Exam
instrument focus

Provide an Illuminating Exam

Card emulates patients’ technology-driven environment.

Bill McCoy, O.D.

The use of video games, personal computers, smart phones, tablets and e-readers has reached epidemic proportions, prompting the almost constant view of backlit displays. Therefore, to give ourselves an excellent chance of obtaining the most accurate visual acuity results, we should employ tests that mimic our patients’ everyday technology-driven vision demands. This is why I use the Illuminated Near Card, from Gulden Ophthalmics.


The Illuminated Near Card contains an LED backlit display, providing high-resolution lettering sans reflection. Specifically, the Card comes indexed with letters from 20/20 to 20/200 in nine increments with marked indices that indicate the patient’s visual acuity level. (Many additional illuminated cards, such as near and 10ft/3 meter letter and number cards, an Amsler grid and replaceable transparent inserts, are available for $10 each.) Also, the Card can be viewed horizontally or vertically.

The Illuminated Near Card mimics our patients’ everyday technology-driven demands, giving us an excellent chance of obtaining the most accurate visual acuity results.

In addition to testing near vision, the Card is also useful in ruling-out maculopathy in patients who present complaining of vision loss. Specifically, the backlighting enhances one’s ability to identify distortion. It can also help predict visual acuity in post-operative cataract patients. In this case, the backlighting facilitates the patient’s ability to notice contrast. The end result: You can determine what portion of vision loss is due to cataract vs. maculopathy.

The Card measures 7.8 x 5.6 x.4” with a 5.75 x 3.75” viewing area. Also, it includes a rubberized frame to facilitate handling, or you can wall mount it or use it with a counter stand. It is powered by four standard AAA batteries or an AC adapter — the latter of which does not come standard.

Testing procedure

To use the Illuminated Near Card, you slide your card of choice into the device, similar to the way one uses an X-ray imager. Otherwise, it works exactly the same as a standard Near Card, with testing taking less than a minute.

To get the best results, you should use the device in normal, not dim, lighting. You want to create the same lighting atmosphere patients would normally read and use their technological devices.

Staff training

Gulden Ophthalmics delivers the device along with a small manual. It’s easy to use in terms of switching out the cards and turning the actual device on and off, so a sales representative isn’t needed to conduct in-practice training.

Return on investment

The Illuminated Near Card costs $69, so it pays for itself almost immediately. In addition to providing lettering and/or number cards that do not age, which yields accurate and replicable testing results, the device also provides a bit of a “wow” factor for patients, which enables me to maintain my practice’s high-tech image.

Thanks to the dawn and ever-increasing popularity of portable backlit devices, our patient’s visual environment has changed. To give yourself a great chance of obtaining the most accurate visual acuity, you should provide vision exams that mimic this same visual environment. The Illuminated Near Card, from Gulden Ophthalmics, has enabled me to do this. OM


Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: March 2012, page(s): 77