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What do the results of the visual field test mean?

David R. Demartini, MD
Ophthalmology

The visual field test is a way to evaluate the peripheral vision sensitivity of an eye. It uses a very small test light that can vary in brightness. This determines how well and how far out to the side this small intensity of light can be seen. A healthy eye can see tiny, low intensity lights way out in the periphery while a diseased eye may need a very bright, larger light before it can be seen even centrally. There are normal eye results to which each tested eye is compared. 
Glaucoma, strokes or retinal disease can be some of the causes for abnormal visual field tests.
There are many indices on the visual field report that can be utilized to assess the reliability of the test as well as any abnormalities or changes in the visual field over time. Each of these indices can provide valuable information, but must be evaluated in the context of the entire test and the other reported indices and not in isolation. Therefore, it is not possible to interpret the significance of a single number from the visual field test.

In addition, the visual field test itself must be viewed in the context of other parts of the eye examination for glaucoma, including the eye pressure and the appearance of the optic nerve. Your eye doctor is the individual who is best able to interpret the results of the visual field test for you and what it may mean given the other findings that are important in the evaluation of a patient with glaucoma.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.