American Family Vision Clinic Logo
Xu, Renfeng MD, PhD; Chelales, Erika MS; Rickert, Martin PhD; Muessel, Rachel OD; Meyer, Dawn OD; Thibos, Larry N. PhD, FAAO; Bradley, Arthur PhD; Kollbaum, Pete PhD, OD, FAAO

Small Text on Product Labels Poses a Special Challenge for Emerging Presbyopes

publication date
December 26, 2018
see more



Approximately 10% of the lowercase text on nonprescription drug labels is smaller than the 1 mm required by the Food and Drug Administration. The small size, combined with the progressive decline in accommodative amplitude and gain, poses a reading challenge for middle-aged emerging presbyopes.



The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of progressing presbyopia and near adds on the ability of middle-aged patients to read small text routinely encountered on product labels.



Geometrical optics was used to determine the impact of changing viewing distance, accommodation, and pupil size on retinal blur size. We photographed 261 consumer product labels in grocery, personal care, and nonprescription (over-the-counter) drug categories and used character recognition software to identify and size 255,298 printed letters. We computed the impact of viewing distance on the ratio of blur to letter detail and used published blur ratios of ≤4 and ≤2 to identify the conditions that allowed for letter recognition and proficient reading, respectively.



Median/mode lowercase letter heights (in millimeters) were 1.39/1.16, 1.29/1.15, and 1.18/1.01, respectively, for groceries, personal care, and over-the-counter drug categories. Despite the increased angular subtense of approaching letters, blur ratios generally increased with reduced viewing distance because of increased defocus. Increased viewing distance decreased blur, but small (e.g., 1 mm) letters became too small to read proficiently (angular size <10 arcminutes) for distances beyond 37 cm. With larger pupils, blur ratios were too large to support proficient reading when accommodative amplitude dropped to ≤3 diopters. An add power sufficient to bring the far point closer than 37 cm was required to proficiently read small text.



Product labels, especially nonprescription drug packages, typically use fonts that are too small to be read proficiently by unaided emmetropes with emerging presbyopia. This problem can be ameliorated by correction of presbyopia at an earlier age and with higher add powers.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
1 2 3



Understanding Foggy vision

Is foggy vision troubling you? Let our experienced optometrist restore your sight – book an appointment today and see the […]

Read More

Vision Therapy for Nystagmus: Improving Visual Function and Quality of Life

According to the National Eye Institute, nystagmus affects approximately 0.24% of the general population in the United States. This means […]

Read More

Cleaning Your Eyelids With Hypochlorous Acid: The Ultimate Solution for Eyelid Infections and Inflammation From Blepharitis

Are you tired of dealing with eyelid inflammation? Well, there's good news for you! Hypochlorous acid, a natural bactericidal compound, […]

Read More
see all blogs

Contact Us To Amplify Your EyeCare

Working Hours

Monday - Thursday
8:00 am - 5:15pm
400 Yauger Way SW. Bldg 1, Ste A Olympia, WA 98502
Website Accessibility Policy
Safety protocols page
phone-handsetarrow-uparrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram