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Visual field

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

      This article describes the test that measures your visual field.

  • Alternative Names
    • Perimetry; Tangent screen exam; Automated perimetry exam; Goldmann visual field exam; Humphrey visual field exam

  • 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 (90 centimeters) 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. Automated perimetry is often used to track conditions that may worsen over time.

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

  • 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 provider diagnose the cause.

  • Normal Results
    • The peripheral vision is normal.

  • What Abnormal Results Mean
  • Risks
    • The test has no risks.

  • References
    • American Academy of Ophthalmology Preferred Practice Patterns Committee. Preferred Practice Pattern Guidelines. Comprehensive Adult Medical Eye Evaluation -- 2010. one.aao.org/preferred-practice-pattern/comprehensive-adult-medical-eye-evaluation--octobe. Accessed February 26, 2015.

      Barton JJS, Sexton B. Examination of the visual field. In: Albert & Jakobiec's Principles & Practice of Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2008:chap 279.

      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; 2013:vol 2, chap 2.