Visual Field Test0

visual_field_test GlauWhat is a visual field test?

A visual field test is a method of measuring an individual’s entire scope of vision, that is their central and peripheral (side) vision. Visual field testing actually maps the visual fields of each eye individually. The visual field test is a subjective examination, requiring the patient to understand the testing instructions, fully cooperate, and complete the entire test in order to provide useful information.

What is a visual field test used for?

Visual field testing is most frequently used to detect any signs of glaucoma damage to the optic nerve. In addition, visual field tests are useful for detection of central or peripheral retinal disease, eyelid conditions such as ptosis or drooping, optic nerve disease, and diseases affecting the visual pathways within the brain. The visual pathways carry information from the eye to the visual or occipital cortex in the brain, where this information is processed into vision.

How is visual field testing done?

There are a variety of methods utilized to measure the visual fields. Virtually all visual field testing is performed one eye at a time, with the opposite (contralateral) eye completely covered to avoid errors. In all testing, the patient must look straight ahead at all times in order to avoid testing the central vision rather than the periphery. Most modern visual field testing devices also continuously monitor fixation, or the ability of the patient to maintain a consistent straight ahead gaze. To summarize, visual field testing is useful for numerous reasons:

  • screening for glaucoma,
  • testing patient with glaucoma for treatment response,
  • screening and testing for lid droop or ptosis, particularly for insurance approval of lid lift surgical procedures,
  • testing for macular diseases such as macular degeneration or toxicity from certain medications such as Plaquenil used for rheumatoid arthritis,
  • testing for peripheral retinal disease such as retinal detachment orretinitispigmentosa,
  • testing for malingerers, or patients who may have secondary gains from poor vision, such as a false insurance claim,
  • testing the function of the optic nerve looking for tumor, injury, poor circulation or stroke, compression from swelling in the eye socket or orbit, or severe dietary deficiency,
  • testing the visual pathways to the brain, looking for tumor, brain swelling, injury, or poor circulation, and
  • testing the visual or occipital cortex, looking for tumor, injury, brain swelling, or poor circulation.


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