Blog Hero

What is a Visual Field Test For Glaucoma?

Find A Location
Young man undergoing visual field test at optometrist office

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness by damaging your eye’s optic nerve. This condition results from fluid drainage issues in the eye, resulting in excess aqueous humour and elevated eye pressure. 

Intraocular eye pressure (IOP) is associated with several types of glaucoma, but glaucoma occurs even when your IOP is within a normal limit. Glaucoma advances gradually, and typically doesn’t present symptoms until its advanced stage. 

At this time, your optometrist cannot correct vision loss resulting from glaucoma

Glaucoma generally presents in people over 60, and it’s one of the leading causes of vision loss in older adults. There is currently no cure for glaucoma, but early detection and treatment can protect your vision. 

Glaucoma is a sneaky eye disease that provides no early warning signs, and the best way to detect its presence is through your routine comprehensive eye exam. 

What is a Visual Field Test? 

Glaucoma typically affects a patient’s peripheral vision at its onset. Your optometrist will often use a visual field test to measure your peripheral and central vision to diagnose and monitor the condition. A visual field test measures your area of sight, or how wide you can see. 

The most common visual field test is the Humphrey visual field test,

The Humphrey visual field test uses a light spot repeatedly presented in different areas of the peripheral vision. Patients taking this test must focus on a central fixation light, pressing a button when the blinking side light appears in their side vision. 

Your optometrist will monitor any areas that appear gray or black on your results. These areas reflect the parts of your vision that are affected by glaucoma. If glaucoma remains unmanaged,  it will result in these areas becoming larger or darker.

It’s essential to keep eyes fixed on the central light; if the patient moves their eyes to follow or search for the blinking lights, it can decrease the reliability of the test and affect your optometrist’s monitoring of the disease.

A visual field test is repeated periodically as part of a patient’s glaucoma monitoring and management to determine if the disease stabilizes or escalates. 

Visual Field Tests & Diagnosis 

Your optometrist will perform a visual field test in a routine comprehensive eye exam, or as soon as they suspect a glaucoma diagnosis. 

This initial visual field test helps evaluate visual damage due to glaucoma, determines the severity of the disease, and provides valuable staging information for targeting intraocular pressure

A visual field test shows changes that the patient may not have noticed in their day-to-day lives. Other diseases may also influence the visual field, like: 

Your doctor will take these possible conditions under consideration when interpreting the results of your visual field test. 

Visual Field Tests & Glaucoma Management 

Patients diagnosed with glaucoma should undergo recurrent visual field tests to establish a baseline of their visual field. These repeated tests are critical in monitoring and managing the progression of their condition.  

Visual field test results can be variable, and repetition helps your optometrist determine any changes to your vision. Frequent testing is a valuable measure for gauging if your current treatment is sufficient, and what your vision could be in the future. 

If your intraocular pressure is too high, it can result in the worsening of your visual field. Your optometrist may study your test results and adjust your treatments accordingly.  

It is crucial to follow the visual field test schedule recommended by your eye care team; repeated visual field tests help your optometrist monitor your progress and could save your vision.

Women with chin on machine at optometrist office ready to undergo visual field test.

Testing Your Patience 

Patients with glaucoma will take many visual field tests, and this may seem unnecessary or repetitive. 

Visual field tests are challenging, and it’s easy to become agitated or stressed when the time comes to revisit your optometrist. Here are some tips to help you relax for your visual field test

  • Get a good night’s sleep before your test: Ideally, you’ll want to be alert and not too sleepy. 
  • Don’t rush: The machine will adjust its timing to your reactions and pace.
  • Get comfortable: Wear comfortable clothing and minimal accessories to avoid discomfort and distractions.
  • Don’t worry about getting an A+:  Press the button only when you’re sure you see the light spot. Focus on the central fixation light, and avoid pressing the button indiscriminately. 

Consistent test results are the most useful for your optometrist, so follow their directions carefully. Remember, recurrent field tests are an essential step towards monitoring and managing your condition! 

Here to Help 

If you’re concerned about glaucoma and are interested in a visual field test, reach out to our team at EyeZone Nevada today. We’re a caring practice focused on our patient’s overall eye health, and we want to ensure your eyes stay happy and bright for many years to come. 

Call today for more information about eye disease diagnosis & management

Written by Daniel Rowan

Reno optometrist, Dr. Daniel Rowan, was raised in Western Canada and attended Norwich University in Vermont on a hockey scholarship. After obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in both biology and sports medicine, he received his Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree from the New York College of Optometry in 2001. He performed rotations in a Queens VA hospital, specializing in glaucoma care, and an outpatient eye clinic in the Bronx. Immediately after graduating, he moved to Nevada and is now considered a top Reno optometrist. He is a member of the American Optometric Association and is board-certified by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry for the treatment and management of ocular diseases.
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax