Eye chart riffs

 Riffs on the familiar Snellen eye chart

The big E

Picture 14 of 14


Dutch ophthalmologist Hermann Snellen developed his now-familiar eye chart in 1862. The chart quickly became popular. Versions of Snellen’s chart are used today around the world, including versions in other scripts and pictographic charts for children and nonliterate adults.

Snellen’s visual acuity test was not the first eye chart. His major innovation was its special typeface, which he called Optotype. Each Optotype letter is the same width and height. Optotype has just nine letters:

C – D – E – F – L – O – P – T – Z.

In 2012 (and again in 2013) I had eye surgery at the Melles Hoornvlieskliniek, Rotterdam. Part of the initial recovery from the surgery involves lying on one’s back for four days as an air bubble in the eye holds the newly implanted tissue in place. These eye chart riffs are what comes of spending four days staring at the ceiling. In jazz a riff is a short repeated pattern of notes, sometimes with impromptu variations. Some of these eye charts riffs are displayed at the Melles Clinic.

Signed and numbered prints in A3 or A4 size and portfolios of a dozen charts in A4 size, with introductory text in English and Dutch, are available for sale. Please write for options and prices: eds@jura-eds.com.

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