Nowadays, most of us feel as though we have taken the right steps to good health, whether we choose preventative measures or simply keeping in close tune with our bodies. Regularly scheduled health screens, such as physical examinations and age-specific tests like mammograms, have become a standard practice for many individuals. But when is the last time that any of us underwent a thorough eye exam?
Long-term health problems like diabetes require check-ups with the optometrist and/or ophthalmologist. What many people don’t realize is the number of conditions that can actually be detected through an examination of the eyes. One of the most important screening tools in the optical industry is the visual field test, which screens for a virtually endless number of conditions that may present symptoms through seemingly subtle changes in vision.
What is visual field testing?
Visual field testing is a method of exploring an individual’s entire scope of vision, also known as peripheral vision or side vision. The tests are generally performed by placing the patient in front of a specially-designed machine, such as the Humphrey-Zeiss Visual Field mechanism. The individual is then asked to focus on a center point within the machine’s screen. A number of lights, patterns and flickers then appear on the machine’s screen, requiring the patient to take note of each appearance by pressing a button. This records each person’s responses and enables eye care professionals to interpret loss of specific areas of vision and further explore the cause of that vision loss.
Visual field testing can be performed in as little as one minute, while extended tests may be administered to screen for additional changes in central and peripheral vision.
What diseases and conditions does visual field testing screen for?
Several conditions affecting central and peripheral vision can be detected through the use of visual field testing, including but not limited to: glaucoma, the progression of damage caused by glaucoma, retinal detachment, retinitis pigmentosa, tumor affecting the optic nerve, undetected stroke, undetected eye injury; and a variety of symptoms involving the brain, such as swelling and injury.
How often is visual field testing performed?
Optometrists and ophthalmologists alike recommend visual field testing be performed during regular eye examinations, typically on a yearly basis, depending upon each patient’s specific health conditions and concerns.
Where can my vision be evaluated through visual field testing?
Most modern eye care professionals, such as optometrists and ophthalmologists, have visual field testing equipment readily available at their offices. Contact your preferred physician for more information regarding regular examinations or to schedule a visual field test for you or a loved one.