How does your vision measure up? If you’re anything like me, it’s not very good at all. But one woman from Germany, Veronica Seider, has vision that is 20 times better than the average persons. If you’re wondering how good that is, it turns out that she can identify people from 1 mile (1.6 km) away.
When it comes to vision, it’s not a fair playing field. What is considered prefect vision, 20/20, is actually a measure of how the normal average eye compares to your own eye. Some people can have better than average, but for a lot of people the vision is worse, and for some, non-existent. Things that can affect vision quality are environmental factors and genetics. My own failure is most likely genetic, in a similar way that Johnny Depp‘s is. But while may of us struggle to see the beauty of the world in all its wonder without visual aids of some description, people like Veronica Seider posses almost superhuman vision. So what makes her different from the rest of us poor souls, and how was her amazing vision tested?
In October 1972 the University of Stuttgart, then West Germany was conducting vision tests on their students. The tests included tests on the resolving power of the human eye. The resolving power of the average human eye basically comes down to 100 microns at 25 centimeters. Now one micron is a thousandth of a millimeter, so 100 microns is about one tenth of a millimeter, which is pretty small. That’s actually a little smaller than a dot on a piece of paper. But the average eye can manage to see even smaller items, provided that the object is bright enough, and the right environmental conditions exist. One such example is a bright star that sits billions of light years away. Some stars, or other bright light sources that are only 3 to 4 microns across can be seen by an average eye. Now that is small. But Veronica Seider was reported to be able to see exceptionally well.
Following the visual tests in then West Germany, the University of Stuttgart reported that their student, Veronica Seider could detect and identify a person from 1 mile away. This is about 20 times better than the average person can see, and the best vision yet reported.