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Visual field

Perimetry; Tangent screen exam; Automated perimetry exam; Goldmann visual field exam; Humphrey visual field exam

The visual field refers to the total area in which objects can be seen in the side (peripheral) vision as you focus your eyes on a central point.

This article describes the test that measures your visual field.

How the Test is Performed

Confrontation visual field exam. This is a quick and basic check of the visual field. The health care provider sits directly in front of you. You will cover one eye, and stare straight ahead with the other. You will be asked to tell when you can see the examiner's hand.

Tangent screen or Goldmann field exam. You will sit about 3 feet (90 centimeters) from a screen with a target in the center. You will be asked to stare at the center target and let the examiner know when you can see an object that moves into your side vision. This exam creates a map of your entire peripheral vision.

Automated perimetry. You sit in front of a concave dome and stare at a target in the middle. You press a button when you see small flashes of light in your peripheral vision. Your responses help determine if you have a defect in your visual field. Automated perimetry is often used to track conditions that may worsen over time.

Your provider will discuss with you the type of visual field testing to be done.

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is necessary.

How the Test will Feel

There is no discomfort with this test.

Why the Test is Performed

This eye exam will show whether you have a loss of vision anywhere in your visual field. The pattern of vision loss will help your provider diagnose the cause.

Normal Results

The peripheral vision is normal.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be due to diseases or central nervous system (CNS) disorders, such as tumors that damage or press on (compress) the parts of the brain that deal with vision.

Other diseases that may affect the visual field of the eye include:

  • Diabetes
  • Glaucoma (increased eye pressure)
  • High blood pressure
  • Macular degeneration (eye disorder that slowly destroys sharp, central vision)
  • Multiple sclerosis (disorder that affects the CNS)
  • Optic glioma (tumor of the optic nerve)
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • Pituitary gland disorders
  • Retinal detachment (separation of the retina in the back of the eye from its supporting layers)
  • Stroke
  • Temporal arteritis (inflammation and damage to the blood vessels that supply blood to the head)

Risks

The test has no risks.

References

Budenz DL. Visual field testing in glaucoma. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 10.5.

Elliott DB, Flanagan JG. Assessment of visual function. In: Elliott DB, ed. Clinical Procedures in Primary Eye Care. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 10.5.

Feder RS, Olsen TW, Prum BE Jr, et al.; American Academy of Ophthalmology. Comprehensive adult medical eye evaluation preferred practice pattern guidelines. Ophthalmology. 2016;123(1):209-236. PMID: 26581558 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26581558.

    • Eye

      Eye - illustration

      The eye is the organ of sight, a nearly spherical hollow globe filled with fluids (humors). The outer layer or tunic (sclera, or white, and cornea) is fibrous and protective. The middle layer (choroid, ciliary body and the iris) is vascular. The innermost layer (the retina) is nervous or sensory. The fluids in the eye are divided by the lens into the vitreous humor (behind the lens) and the aqueous humor (in front of the lens). The lens itself is flexible and suspended by ligaments which allow it to change shape to focus light on the retina, which is composed of sensory neurons.

      Eye

      illustration

    • Visual field test

      Visual field test - illustration

      Central and peripheral vision is tested by using visual field tests. Changes may indicate eye diseases, such as glaucoma or retinitis.

      Visual field test

      illustration

      • Eye

        Eye - illustration

        The eye is the organ of sight, a nearly spherical hollow globe filled with fluids (humors). The outer layer or tunic (sclera, or white, and cornea) is fibrous and protective. The middle layer (choroid, ciliary body and the iris) is vascular. The innermost layer (the retina) is nervous or sensory. The fluids in the eye are divided by the lens into the vitreous humor (behind the lens) and the aqueous humor (in front of the lens). The lens itself is flexible and suspended by ligaments which allow it to change shape to focus light on the retina, which is composed of sensory neurons.

        Eye

        illustration

      • Visual field test

        Visual field test - illustration

        Central and peripheral vision is tested by using visual field tests. Changes may indicate eye diseases, such as glaucoma or retinitis.

        Visual field test

        illustration

      Tests for Visual field

       

      Review Date: 2/7/2017

      Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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