Visual Field / Peripheral Vision Testing

The entire area that we can see through each eye is called our visual field. Most people often think of this as our center vision (what you see clearly) and the peripheral vision. Combined these areas allow us to observe our environment. Both eyes see their own visual field which our brains put together into one image. If the brain can not put them together double vision (called diplopia) occurs. Testing of the visual field is often used by neuro-ophthalmologist and glaucoma specialist to help diagnosis disease of the eye or brain.

Types of Visual Fields Testing

Often during an eye exam the visual field is tested. The visual field testing  can range from simple to very complex and includes:

  • Confrontational visual fields
  • Tangent Screens
  • Automated/Computer run Visual Fields
  • Goldman Visual Fields

Each different way of testing the visual field has its goods and bad for both the doctor and the patient. Not each test is needed for every patient and it is important for the doctor to choose the visual field test that is correct for the patient and the disease process that is being examined. The computerized test are great for disease such as glaucoma as they can reproduce the test each time and are often quicker then other formal testing. The computer can also analyze the data and give the doctor statistical data of any changes compared to normal eyes and even previous test taken by that patient. Test such as the tagent screen or the Goldman visual field are good for many neurological problems such as strokes as they go further into the peripheral vision then the computer can. They are technician run so that if the patient needs more time to respond this can be adjusted.

What Visual Fields Show

The visual field will show the doctor the areas that a patient can see. This does not tell the doctor how clear the vision is but rather how wide the vision is and or if there are holes in it. Some patterns are more common for disease of the retina or optic nerve disease the most common being glaucoma. Other fields can show compression of the optic nerve from lesion such as a pituitary tumor or other brain tumor. Defects seen in both eyes (many times not even noticed by the patient) can indicate a stroke or other lesion of the brain. The visual field can also show that the eyelids are causing visual problems in the upper part of the vision and the test are often done to help prove to insurance the need for eyelid surgery.


Jody Abrams, MD  

Neuro-ophthalmologist/Oculoplastic surgeon

Sarasota Retina Institute 

Sarasota, Florida


  1. […] Most people believe that a blepharoplasty is a cosmetic surgery, and while this can be the case, most of the time the surgery is functional and is covered by insurance. This is true for most insurance plans including Medicare. To prove that the eyelids are indeed causing visual problems and functional nature special test must be done including extensive photos and visual fields. […]

  2. […] never knew they had a stroke until a recent eye exam revealed this. Sometimes the stroke can cause loss of the visual field  and or double vision. It is my job to help identify the stroke and offer any possible […]

  3. […] Often the patient is amazed at how much this improves the light coming in and opens up their visual field area. If there is no improvement then raising the lids is more of a cosmetic procedure (not covered […]

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