Award for reading charts

Multilingual reading test system for clinical practice and research 
receives prestigious award

Dermot McGrath

Posted: Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The international Radner Reading Charts project (12 languages) received an award of the PanEuropa Union in December 2016 in the European Parliament in Brussels. The award was presented to Prof Radner (left) by the Head of Science and Technology Options Assessment of the European Parliament, Dr Paul Rübig (right)



As long as people read, ophthalmologists will need a test system that provides accurate, reliable and valid reading acuity measures.

That’s the philosophy that has driven Wolfgang Radner MD, PhD, Austrian Academy of Ophthalmology, for a good part of his working life and which is reflected in his prized creation: the Radner Reading Charts, a highly standardised multilingual reading system for clinical practice and research.
Available in 12 languages and developed in collaboration with psychologists, linguists, statisticians and ophthalmologists, Prof Radner’s project has recently received the prestigious PanEuropa Union award for its contribution to pan-European cooperation and advancing the cause of European ophthalmology.
“As a European ophthalmologist I feel very honoured and privileged to have been recognised by such a prestigious European organisation,” Prof Radner told EuroTimes. “The Radner Reading Chart project shows that foreign languages can link ophthalmologists together in order to establish a homologated standard for measuring reading performance.”
Prof Radner said the award would not have been possible without the generous contribution of over 40 ophthalmologists and academic researchers who helped to realise the project in 12 languages.

The initial inspiration for the charts came to Prof Radner when he was starting out in his career in ophthalmology. “As a resident, I found a considerable lack of research dealing with reading performance in various pathological conditions that can affect functional vision. However, I also found that the reading acuity obtained with the Jaeger charts could not sufficiently show changes in the patient’s reading performance. Since I wanted to do research studies about multifocal intraocular lenses (IOLs) and cataract surgery in age-related macular degeneration patients, there was a need for a well-standardised reading chart system. Surprisingly, there was none available and that was the initial spark to develop the Radner Reading Charts,” he said.
Prof Radner said it took over two years to develop the first issue of the reading chart in German, and between one to two years for every subsequent language. “Up to the current day an estimated 1,326 volunteers have been examined in order to standardise the test-items for the 12 languages,” he said.

The charts come in the form of a booklet with three reading cards, a card with numbers, and one with Landolt rings. It also includes clear instructions and evaluation sheets. The charts are the first to offer standardised sentence optotypes which are as comparable as possible in terms of the number of words (14 words), word length, number of syllables per word, position of words, number of characters, lexical difficulty, and linguistic aspects such as grammar and syntax, Prof Radner explained.
“These are the only reading charts that provide statistically selected and standardised test items. Only statistical analysis, together with a clear definition of the linguistic aspects of the test sentences, gives users a definite picture about the quality and characteristics of the test items used. The concept of sentence optotypes ensures equal difficulty and accurate geometric proportions of the test sentences at all print sizes,” he said.
Using sophisticated standardisation tests, Prof Radner and co-workers demonstrated that the reading charts provide reliable, reproducible, and comparable measurements of reading performance for research and clinical practice.
After their introduction into clinical use, the charts quickly found favour among European ophthalmologists who were impressed with their ease of use, accuracy and reliability. Today the Radner Reading Chart bibliography encompasses more than 100 publications in some of the most prestigious research journals in the world. The first study with a standardised reading chart in patients with multifocal IOLs was performed with the Radner Reading Charts and published in JCRS in 2002. The charts are also currently being used in a number of multicentre trials.
Looking to the future, Prof Radner believes that his charts will stand the test of time and that new technologies to assess near visual performance will still need standardised test items as provided by the chart.
“The standardised sentence optotypes of the Radner Reading Chart can be adopted for any technology and have already been used in a number of electronic devices. However, even the best electronic screens do not have enough resolution to sufficiently measure reading acuity below 0.4 logRAD, whereas the Radner Reading Chart can test reading acuity and speed down to -0.2 logRAD. In addition, a booklet seems to be the quicker solution for daily routine anyway. As an ophthalmologist, I always prefer the quickest and most accurate test in clinical routine and research,” he said.


Wolfgang Radner:

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