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visual field test

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Alternative Names 
perimetry, visual field testing

The visual field test measures a person's vision in different areas. For example, it measures a person's side vision or up and down vision.

Who is a candidate for the test? 
A visual field test is often done as part of a routine eye examination. Also, it may be used to diagnose serious diseases of the eyes or brain. For example, visual field testing is commonly done to help diagnose and monitor glaucoma.

How is the test performed? 
There are a number of variations of this test. It can be performed by a doctor or by a machine. When a doctor does the test, he or she asks the person to look straight ahead. The doctor then places his or her hand or an object somewhere in the field of vision. While the person looks straight ahead, he or she is asked if the hand or object is visible.

In the machine test, the person sits in front of a screen with one eye covered. The person is asked to focus the open eye on a central spot. Lights appear in various areas in the field of vision. The person is asked to respond if he or she sees the spots. Often, a person is asked to press a button when a spot appears. The person's response creates a map of the visual field. Other versions of the test use different colours for spots and backgrounds or other shapes.

What is involved in preparation for the test? 
No special preparation is generally needed for this test.

What do the test results mean? 
Results of the test are normal if the field of vision is as expected for the person's age. If there are defects in the field of vision, certain disease may be present. These can include:
  • glaucoma
  • damage or inflammation of the nerves of the eye
  • damage to the retina, or back of the eye
  • damage to the brain, such as a stroke
  • other eye diseases
Author: Stephanie Slon, BA
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 26/05/2005
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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