What is a Visual Field Test?

Your visual field refers to the total area you can see while focusing eyes on a central point, including your peripheral vision. The Visual Field Test (VFT) is an optional additional pretest to help screen for a number of eye-related issues.

What Happens During the Visual Field Test?

The Visual Field Test is simple and painless to do. You sit down in front of a machine (called the Humphries Field Screener) and focus on a small black square. While focusing on the square, you’ll be asked to press a button each time you see a flickering bar of light. This tests your side or peripheral vision. The process is quick and painless.

The test costs $15 in addition to your regular eye exam. This test, though optional, is highly recommended, and helps screen for a number of eye-related issues.

What Does the Visual Field Test Do?

By testing your peripheral vision, the VFT can be used as an early indicator of several conditions including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. The test, itself, doesn’t confirm the existence of these diseases, but its results—when combined with your medical history—can determine your risk for or appearance of such conditions.

Because the VFT is a subjective measure of your central and peripheral vision it can also be used to diagnose or determine the severity of glaucoma. Some even use the test to monitor the progression of the disease.

The VFT can also help detect blind spots, droopy eyelids that can cause visual impairment, optic nerve damage, and diseases.

The test won't tell you if one of these conditions is present, but it will give the doctor the ability to combine the results with your medical history, results from the prescreen, and questions about your lifestyle to determine your risk for such conditions. Learn more about the other tests involved in your exam.

Ask Yourself: Should I get a Visual Field Test?

If any of the below apply to you, you should consider adding a Visual Field Test pre-screening before your next eye exam. Early detection and monitoring can help your eyes stay their healthiest.

  • Headaches, flashes of light or floaters
  • Family history of diabetes/glaucoma
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Strong eyeglass prescription
  • Heart or circulatory problems
  • On routine medications

When Should I get a Visual Field Test Done?

The Visual Field Test is performed as soon as glaucoma is suspected or on a patient’s initial visit. If done when the patient is healthy, the results of the initial VFT can be used to measure progression or worsening of disease and any damage to the visual pathways to the brain. This information is useful to help your optometrist choose a target for intraocular pressure and glaucoma treatment.

Why do the Visual Field Tests Cost Extra?

To do the Visual Field Test alone it costs $15. If you choose to do both pre-tests, the Visual Field Test and the Retinal Image Screening (available at select America’s Best locations), the cost is only $20.