If you have glaucoma or are at risk for glaucoma, we have probably suggested that you return for a visual field test at least yearly. That is a test where you look into a large bowl-like machine and hit a clicker when you see small lights in your side vision. We generally have the technicians do the testing and then one of our doctors sends you a report about the results in the mail. At the same time we take a picture of your optic nerve in the back of the eye, called an OCT test.
While we don’t get many complaints about the OCT, some patients balk at the idea of the visual field test. Recent comments have been: “I’ve had glaucoma for years, why do I need this test?” Or, “I just had one last year, why do I need to repeat it?”
Why is this test so important? Glaucoma is evaluated by monitoring several things: your eye pressure, the appearance of the optic nerve in the back of the eye AND your side vision. The idea of the visual field is to detect very small changes in side vision BEFORE you become aware of them so we can appropriately start or alter your glaucoma treatment. You can lose up to 40% of your side vision without it becoming obvious to you.
Should we notice small changes on the visual field, glaucoma is easily treated with eye drops. Laser or surgical treatments are also available if drops alone are not adequate. No one should lose vision from glaucoma today with appropriate monitoring. Now that you know how important this test is, you won’t be tempted to put it off. Help us help you preserve your vision.
Dr. Martha Jay is a board certified ophthalmologist specializing in medical and surgical eye care such as blade-free LASIK vision correction, cataract surgery, glaucoma care and more.
For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.LakeShoreVision.com.