The Top 4 Ways People Cheat On Their Eye Exam

Try to avoid these to have the best sports performance

Dr. Daniel Laby
4 min readOct 27, 2022


Eye Doctor holding his head as patient squints to see the eye chart, saying no, no ..
Image by the author

Do you have 20/20 vision?

Normal vision is considered to be 20/20.

This is average in terms of the general population, although the best vision humanly possible is often considered 20/8. For sports, we are not worried about the better side of the scale, but instead need to correct vision that is less than 20/20, or even 20/15.

Less than normal vision is from 20/25 onward to 20/50, 20/100, 20/200 or even worse.

The question is have you had a recent eye exam and what is your vision?

Although vision specialists have many ways to detect vision abnormalities, to some extent we rely on what you, the subject say they see.

Most people try their best and give honest answers, but on occasion, we come across those who try to outsmart the system one way or another and provide fraudulent responses.

It’s never good to cheat on an eye exam; in fact, the only one who loses is yourself. With that in mind, I wanted to give you the top four ways people cheat on their tests. Hopefully, by being aware of these, you won’t fall into these traps.

Memorizing the eye chart

Although this is less common now with computerized eye charts, this used to be unavoidable in the past when we used standard printed wall charts.

In fact, having heard T-Z-V-E-C-L so frequently, it is hard for me to even get my eyes checked with a wall eye chart. Having heard those letters so many times, I can almost recite the eye chart in my sleep, with my eyes closed.

Fortunately, most modern vision specialists use a computer-based chart that can be infinitely randomized, avoiding memorization.

As a patient, just try your best, say what you see, and be willing to take a guess — you will be amazed at how much you correctly identify despite feeling like you can’t see a thing. All of these guesses are important to the vision specialist to properly measure your visual ability.


This always helps you see better, but unless you are planning to walk around squinting all day, it will overestimate your vision. Additionally, it may lead to an incorrect prescription or even worse, no correction at all even when one is needed.

Athletes need very sharp vision for performance; an incorrect or missing corrective prescription could mean the difference between winning and losing. It’s hard sometimes not to squint, but making a conscious effort to avoid this danger is key to optimal performance.


When testing your eyes, the vision specialist will ask you to cover one eye and then the other to test each eye separately. Not fully covering an eye will allow both eyes to be used and will once again overestimate the vision in the eye being tested.

Try to be sure to keep the eye cover centered and covering the vision in the second eye, in order to allow a true reading of the ability of the eye being tested.

Not switching eyes

This is one of the most common techniques people use to try and hide poor vision in one eye.

By convention, we cover the left eye and test the right eye first. When done, the subject is asked to switch the cover patch to the right eye in order to test the left eye.

Occasionally, we come across someone who is trying to hide poor vision in one eye and doesn’t switch the cover, or covers the wrong eye purposely, to avoid using the poorly seeing eye.

Once again, this doesn’t hurt anyone but the subject. Often with a simple correction, a poorly seeing eye can be corrected to excellent vision leading to improved performance

Bonus tip — Don’t tank your exam on purpose

Some athletes purposely perform poorly on their routine exams so that in the event they have a future concussion, they won’t show any loss in ability and will be allowed to return to play more quickly.

This is very dangerous on many levels and most importantly places the athlete at an elevated risk for permanent and irreversible brain damage.

It’s important to always try your best on your eye exam to allow the vision specialist to detect any problems that need to be corrected. Allowing an honest exam will be another step in the athlete’s path to optimal on-field sports performance.

Would you like to learn more about how your eyes can help you play better in your sport? Sign up for my 5-day FREE Email course by clicking here (safe link to my website).



Dr. Daniel Laby

Eye Doc for Pro Athletes | 30+ years of experience | Want to improve your performance? Go here 👉