Posted in Resources

Author: Dr. Leipholtz

As we get older our vision naturally deteriorates – it’s just a fact of life! But there are tools at our disposal that can ensure our long-term eye health. One of those tools is a visual field test.

So, What is a Visual Field test?

A Visual Field (VF) test is an exam that lets you know if you’re losing your peripheral vision over time. That can potentially be a big deal because it might be a sign you’re at risk for glaucoma. Or if you’re already diagnosed or know you’re at risk for glaucoma, the test will help you know how severe it is or if it’s getting worse.

This is also important because it can be difficult to notice if you’re losing your vision over time. If you lose a little bit of vision every year, it can be a while before you notice a problem. So a VF test helps you be proactive and take action before things get worse.

Who benefits from a Visual Field test?

Anyone who is diagnosed with glaucoma or at risk for glaucoma would benefit from routine visual field exams. So if you’re over 40, have thin corneas, chronic eye inflammation or are taking medication that increases pressure in the eyes, you might be at risk for glaucoma and could benefit from a VF test.

You should also know that sometimes there are no symptoms for glaucoma, which is why it’s so important to get regular eye exams – your doctor will be able to tell if you’re at risk for glaucoma and recommend a VF test to make sure.

But you can still be on the lookout for these symptoms:

  • Loss of peripheral vision (usually the first sign of glaucoma)
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • General vision loss
  • Redness in the eye
  • Eye that looks hazy
  • Nausea or vomiting (especially if you also have severe eye pain)
  • Pain in the eye and head
  • Narrowing of vision (tunnel vision)

In addition to glaucoma, visual field tests are used to monitor a variety of neuro issues, changes associated with certain medications and other potential problems.

All that being said – if in doubt, just ask us! We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

What can I expect when getting a Visual Field test?

While the test is painless, patients do find it a bit tedious. The test takes approximately 3 minutes per eye and is repeated every 6-12 months to monitor for vision changes. Results tend to vary, so we do recommend repeating it over time.

Here’s the  step-by-step testing process:Octopus 900 Pro from Haag Streit

  1. First, you’re seated in front of a bowl-shaped automated machine and given a handheld clicker device (which is not a TV remote, sorry!).
  2. You place your chin on a rest in the machine. One eye has a patch put over it, so each eye can be tested individually. 
  3. A series of flashing lights are displayed in different locations and you click the clicker when you see the light. 
  4. The process is repeated for the second eye. 
  5. Test results are then reviewed and discussed with you!

How do I get a visual field test? Does my eye doctor do this at my regular appointments?

Your eye doctor might recommend a VF test during your routine eye exam if they think you might be at risk for glaucoma. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will also perform one to help manage your glaucoma if you’re already diagnosed.

If you’re wanting to schedule one, just give us a call!

Is this typically covered by insurance?

Yes it is! Interestingly enough, VF exams are usually covered by your health insurance, not vision insurance. Exams may be limited by your health insurance to one time per year if you’re at risk for glaucoma, and two per year if you’re already diagnosed. Be sure to check with your insurance provider for more information.


Whether you have glaucoma, are at risk for glaucoma or just want to know if you’re losing your vision over time – a Visual Field exam could help your vision stay crisp and clear for many years to come!

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