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Visual Field Testing

A Visual Field Test (VFT) is used to quantify how well you can see through each eye individually. This test helps your optometrist establish a baseline and diagnose ocular injuries or diseases, including glaucoma.

The test involves identifying lights or objects that appear in the sides of your vision; this could be through a machine or performed by an eye doctor.

What is Visual Field Testing?

Visual field testing is performed on patients to quantify how well they can see with each eye individually. It is a non-invasive examination that is useful in the diagnosis and monitoring of conditions such as glaucoma as well as neurological conditions such as pituitary tumours.

It is most often performed using a visual field machine^ which is a specialised piece of equipment that records how well each eye can see, and based on the results can reveal links to neurological conditions. The results of a visual field test can be used to monitor progressive conditions that affect a person's peripheral visual field and/or central visual field.

visual field machin

Why do people need Visual Field Testing?

A visual field test is beneficial for people who have progressive eye diseases, neurological conditions affecting their visual fields as well as monocular drivers who need to fit a certain criteria to continue driving.

Visual field testing can help detect early signs of certain eye diseases such as glaucoma and should be had as often as your eye doctor recommends it.

Visual field tests are important as they can detect problems with your field of vision that are otherwise difficult to notice. If you do have any deficiencies with your field of vision such as a blind spot, your brain may be filling these in, leaving you unable to identify any changes in your eyesight until it is too late

Visual field testing can also detect conditions affecting visual pathways between the optic nerve and the visual cortex. These conditions primarily include tumours.

What causes visual field defects?

Visual field defects can be caused by many different things. Most commonly a visual field defect is caused by damage or interference with your vision. This could be any eye injuries you have sustained or diseases such as glaucoma.

Glaucoma is the term for a group of eye diseases that occur when the optic nerve is damaged. It can cause irreversible loss of vision, most commonly in a person's peripheral field.

Types of visual field tests

There are several different types of visual field tests that are performed by eye doctors.

  • Confrontation visual field test - This is a common visual field test that does not involve machines. Your eye doctor will test your peripheral vision by holding objects in your periphery and asking if you can see them.
  • Amsler grid - A basic visual field test using a grid of squares with a large dot in the middle. While looking at this dot, a patient is asked to describe if any areas look blurry, wavy or distorted.
  • Static automated perimetry test - This test involves the patient looking at a bowl shaped instrument called a perimeter where flashing lights will appear in the sides of their vision. The patient is asked to press a button when they see any of these lights.
  • Kinetic perimetry visual field test - The patient is shown moving light targets in a visual field test machine and asked to identify when they are visible in their periphery. Kinetic visual field testing is used to map the complete visual field.
  • Frequency doubling perimetry - Using varying intensities of a flickering image, this test assesses any loss of vision or visual field defects.

How does a Visual Field Test work?

A visual field test involves being positioned in front of a machine that shows flashing lights of differing intensities in which you record your responses by clicking a button. Each patient's eye will be tested separately with the opposite eye covered by an eye patch.

During the test, there will be some spots that you will not be able to see and that is normal and part of the exam to help generate reliable results.

Who performs a Visual Field Test?

At Oscar Wylee, visual field testing is performed by an optometrist or a trained team member.

Read more about the services an optometrist provides here.

How to prepare for a Visual Field Test?

To ensure the results of your visual field test are as accurate as possible, follow these steps as they may prevent you from having to redo the test.

  • Wear comfortable clothing - The more comfortable you are, the smoother the process will be.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before - If you are tired in the visual field test, it could affect the results.
  • Eat before the test - No one likes taking a test on an empty stomach.
  • Try not to let your surroundings distract you - It’s best to be fully focused on the visual field test.

How long does a Visual Field Test take?

At Oscar Wylee, a visual field test can take up to 40 minutes.

How much does a Visual Field Test cost?

The cost of a visual field test at Oscar Wylee can be bulk billed with Medicare, otherwise the cost is $60.

Our top tips for Visual Field Testing

Visual field tests can be intimidating at first, but we have some tips to get you through the process as easy as possible.

  • Relax, a visual field test isn’t something to be nervous about.
  • Stay focused on the central target and ignore any distractions.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up if you are uncomfortable or need a break. Your Optometrist will be happy to help.
  • Take your time. There’s no need to rush, you can go at your own pace. If you miss a click, it’s fine as it will be retested throughout the test.
  • Make sure you respond to every light you see even if you aren't certain it is there.
  • Don't worry if you aren't seeing many lights, even a person with normal vision won't be able to see every light.

^ Not available at all stores. Usage criteria is at the discretion of the optometrist.

Check with a store near you.

Contact a store near you to find out whether they have visual field testing available.

pupillary distance
pupillary distance

Need to have your eyes tested?

Make a booking with an Oscar Wylee optometrist today.