20/20 vision in 2020?

We can do better!

Did you know that in the USA, vision – how well you can see – is often measured using a scale you’ve probably never seen?

In much of Europe, eyesight is measured using positive and negative numbers. As you probably know, -1.00 vision means you can only see objects when they are within one meter of you and they’re blurry when they’re farther away. +1.00 means if anything is closer than one meter, you can’t see it. And these are just a few examples of many possible numbers that come from a system developed by Ferdinand Monoyer, a French ophthalmologist, in the mid-1800s.

But this scale isn’t what Americans are familiar with. They use one invented by Dutchman Herman Snellen that was also first used in the mid-1800s. This scale measures vision by fractions that always begin with 20. The reason for this is that when you take an eye test, you stand 20 feet away from a chart (about six meters) to read letters that get increasingly smaller towards the bottom. The fraction “20/20” is considered “average” vision and means you can see things from 20 feet away that the average person can.

If the second number is higher, it means your vision is poorer. 20/40 vision means you can only see at 20 feet what most people can see at 40 feet. If the second number is under 20, your vision is better than average. The best possible vision is 20/10, seeing something at 20 feet that the average person needs to be just 10 feet away to see.

Interestingly, though 20/20 vision is only average, many Americans think it is the best possible score. There are even idioms about it, like “hindsight is 20/20.” This means that it’s easy to know which actions you shouldn’t have taken in the past now that you’ve seen their consequences.

With the year being 2020, a lot of companies are taking the opportunity to make a pun about having “2020 vision” this year. Even Oprah named her U.S. tour the “2020 Vision Tour.”


But at TIP TOP English, we’re planning more to do better than the norm

For one, we’ve launched an online training platform that allows you to take weekly TIP TOP classes from home. Improve at skills like travel English, communication on the phone, job interviews, technical English and more. The lessons will be led by live trainers and designed to deliver the active, effective TIP TOP teaching style you can always expect from us. Learn more about TIP TOP online training here.

Additionally, we’ll begin releasing weekly videos with tips to improve your English on our YouTube channel starting on Thursday next week! Like, subscribe, and click the notification bell on our YouTube channel to learn how to use an apostrophe (one of these: ’ ) correctly, pick up helpful phrases for telephone conversations, find out big differences between British and U.S. English, and discover many other useful tips throughout the year.

Along with these two new ventures, we’ll keep on offering the same high quality, highly active lessons at businesses across our region and beyond.

With all our new services, we hope it’s clear that while some businesses are fine with having just 20/20 vision in 2020, we’re aiming for something better than average.



eyesight is measured – Sehvermögen wird gemessen
within one meter – innerhalb von 1 Meter
be blurry – unscharf, verschwommen
developed by – entwickelt von
ophthalmologist – Augenarzt
invented by – erfunden von
scale – Skala, Maßstab
to be familiar with sth. – vertraut sein mit
measure sth. by fractions – etwas nach Bruchteilen bemessen
increasingly smaller – zunehmend kleiner werden
towards the bottom – je weiter man nach unten kommt
average – Durchschnitt
vision is poorer – die Sehkraft ist schwächer
even idioms about – sogar Redewendungen über
in hindsight – im Nachhinein, rückblickend
consequences – Konsequenzen, Folgen
to make a pun – ein Wortspiel machen
improve at skills – Fähigkeiten verbessern
to be led by – durchgeführt werden von
release weekly videos – wöchentlich Videos veröffentlichen
subscribe – abbonieren (kostenlos)
notification – Benachrichtigung
venture – Projekt
to aim for – auf etwas abzielen

Excite Your Senses

On our YouTube channel, you can follow along as a native speaker reads this month’s Learning Nugget accompanied by music and pictures.

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