Written by Professor Alison McKendrick, University of Melbourne
How to make the best of your tests
Visual field testing is a crucial part in the diagnosis and treatment of all glaucomas and many neurological diseases. It is used to measure how well you can see throughout visual space and a large number of locations need to be tested to obtain an accurate map of your vision; hence the test takes several minutes. Some people find this tiring and you can have days when you perform well on the test and not so well on other days. As a result you may need multiple tests to obtain an accurate measurement of any vision loss.
All field testing is a partnership between your eye care professional, the technician and you. Here are some tips to smooth your way through the process; helping to improve reliability and enhance the quality of the information obtained, which is vital for your proper care.
There are many things done to assist you to perform at your best. The eye care professional will choose the most appropriate test and strategy for you but the technician is responsible for setting up the equipment so you are comfortable and to explain what you need to do. Your back, arms, feet and legs should be supported; your chin should be firmly on the chin-rest and your forehead gently against the brow-band to produce an accurate test reading. Do not hesitate to ask for anything that makes you more comfortable (e.g. a cushion for your back, a tissue to dab your eyes if needed, or to raise or lower the chair or equipment) as this will assist you to concentrate and to do your best. Make sure you completely understand what you need to do, and ask repeatedly for a clearer explanation, if required.
If you have special concerns, tell the technician. These might include a feeling of claustrophobia or being too hot or cold. You must play your part to eliminate all distractions so that you can focus entirely on the test. This may include being well rested and having eaten. Let the technician know if you are feeling unwell at any stage.
What can I expect at a visual field test?
The technician should monitor your progress intermittently throughout the test, and give you feedback on how well you’re doing.
As the technology improves; machines become faster, quieter, friendlier, more accurate and therefore more reliable.
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