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A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M.; 2013.

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Visual field

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

Last reviewed: February 7, 2013.

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

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 from a screen with a target in the center. You will be asked to stare at the center object 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 an object 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.

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 doctor diagnose the cause.

Normal Values

The peripheral vision is normal.

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal results may be due to diseases or central nervous system 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:

What the risks are

The test has no risks.

Special considerations

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

References

  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology Preferred Practice Patterns Committee. Preferred Practice Pattern Guidelines. Comprehensive Adult Medical Eye Evaluation. Available at http://one.aao.org/CE/PracticeGuidelines/PPP_Content.aspx?cid=64e9df91-dd10-4317-8142-6a87eee7f517. Accessed February 26, 2013.
  2. Budenz DL. Visual field testing in glaucoma. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2008:chap 10.5.
  3. Piltz-Seymour JR, Heath-Phillip O, Drance SM. Visual fields in glaucoma. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:vol 3, chap 49.
  4. Skarf B, Glaser JS, Trick GL. Neuro-ophthalmologic examination: the visual sensory system. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane’s Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:vol 2, chap 2.

Review Date: 2/7/2013.

Reviewed by: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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What works?

  • Interventions for visual field defects in patients with strokeInterventions for visual field defects in patients with stroke
    Stroke can cause some people (20% to 57% of people with stroke) to lose the ability to see the entire space in front of them ‐ often one complete half of the normal field of vision is lost. These problems with seeing are called visual field defects. Visual field defects can make it difficult for people to function normally ‐ especially moving about freely, avoiding obstacles, reading, driving and taking part in rehabilitation for other stroke‐related problems. This review investigated if there are effective treatments for these visual field defects. We identified 13 studies (involving 285 stroke participants) that investigated the effect of treatments for visual field defects. However, only six of these studies compared the effect of treatment against no treatment or a control or placebo treatment. Four studies investigated the effect of scanning training, which involves training people to 'scan' across the space in front of them and into the 'lost' visual field. We found a small amount of evidence showing that scanning training was successful at improving people's ability to scan and also improved people's ability to read, although it did not reduce the size of the visual field defect. We did not find enough evidence to reach conclusions about the effect of scanning training on other activities of daily living. We found insufficient evidence to make conclusions about the effects of other forms of treatment, including using glasses with prisms or training to increase the size of the remaining visible area (visual restitution training (VRT)). In conclusion, scanning training is a promising treatment, but more high‐quality research is needed into treatments for visual field defects.
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    Visual field test.

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