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Acuity means sharpness, but not sharpness as in the sharpness of a knife. Instead, acuity refers to the sharpness of our senses—visual, auditory and olfactory. You’ll most often hear acuity spoken of in reference to sight, i.e., visual acuity, but, as I said, it can also refer to the other senses.

If, for example, you can hear sounds at lower volumes and at a greater range of frequencies than everyone else you could be said to have excellent auditory acuity. You might also have a brilliant future as a spy. Not all government-sponsored eavesdropping is necessarily done online.

What one means by visual acuity can vary. For example, does it include artificially enhanced vision or only natural vision? The answer is yes and no. It depends on the speaker’s intent.

For instance, with my contact lenses in or glasses on I probably have roughly average visual acuity. Without my glasses on or lenses in I could bump into an elephant without being aware of its presence until I made contact. So, do I have good visual acuity or not?

If you ask my optometrist he would likely answer no. However, if I have my lenses in and you ask the elephant, it would probably said yes. It’s important to be always conscious of this difference because you could make a fortune with a talking elephant.

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