Visual Field Testing

Updated: Oct 01, 2019
  • Author: J Brent Bushkar, MD; Chief Editor: Hampton Roy, Sr, MD  more...
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Visual field testing is a crucial component of the neurologic, and more specifically the ophthalmologic, examination. A lesion or disruption may occur anywhere in the pathway from the striate cortex of the occipital lobe to the retina, causing a specific visual field defect. Identification of that deficit leads to an appropriate work up and ultimate diagnosis. Visual field testing can be performed by the non-ophthalmologist proficiently and quickly as part of the bedside examination. Detailed plotting devices used by ophthalmologists also exist to more precisely locate the field deficit (see the image below). [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]

Schematic representation of visual system. Schematic representation of visual system.


Indications for visual field testing include visual field deficits, vision loss, headache, and neurologic deficits.

Patients with the following medical conditions should undergo regular visual field testing by an ophthalmologist to monitor progression:

  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Pituitary gland disorders
  • Central nervous system disorders (eg, tumors)
  • Stroke