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Home > Be Healthy > Health Library > Vision Tests
Vision tests check many different functions of the eye. Some of the tests measure your ability to see details at near and far distances, check for gaps or defects in your field of vision, and evaluate your ability to see different colors. Others may check how sensitive you are to glare (brightness acuity), how well your eyes work together to provide depth perception, and more. Vision tests are usually done along with exams and tests that check the health of the eye. Here are some common tests that check for blurred or low vision.
These tests help your doctor find out if you have a problem that affects how well you can see. They measure the eye's ability to see details at near and far distances. The tests usually involve reading letters or looking at symbols of different sizes on an eye chart. Usually, each eye is tested by itself. And then both eyes may be tested together, with and without corrective lenses (if you wear them). Several types of visual acuity tests may be used.
This test shows your level of refractive error and finds out the right prescription for glasses or contact lenses. Refractive errors, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, occur when light rays entering the eye can't focus exactly on the nerve layer (retina) at the back of the eye. This causes blurred vision. Refraction is done as a routine part of an eye exam for people who already wear glasses or contact lenses. But it will also be done if the results of the other visual acuity tests show that your eyesight is below normal and can be corrected by glasses.
These tests are used to check for gaps in your side (peripheral) vision. Your complete visual field is the entire area seen when your gaze is fixed in one direction. The complete visual field is seen by both eyes at the same time. It includes the central visual field—which detects the highest degree of detail—and the peripheral visual fields.
These tests check your ability to distinguish colors. They are used to screen for color blindness in people with suspected retinal or optic nerve disease or who have a family history of color blindness. Color vision tests are also used to screen applicants for jobs in fields where color perception is essential, such as law enforcement, the military, or electronics. Color vision tests only detect a problem. More testing is needed to identify what is causing the problem.
These tests may be done:
This test is done:
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, bring them with you to the exam since the tests cannot be properly performed without them. If you have a copy of your current eyeglass prescription, bring it with you.
If you have a young child who is being tested, it's best to practice eye tests at home before you take your child to the appointment. This can help your child cooperate better during the real testing.
Many medicines may affect the results of vision tests. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the over-the-counter and prescription medicines you take.
Visual acuity test
Visual field tests
Color vision test
There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. If dilating drops are used for a vision test, they may make the eyes sting and cause a medicine taste in the mouth.
In some people, the dilating eyedrops can cause an allergic reaction.
Vision tests check many different functions of the eye. Your doctor will let you know if your eyesight is normal or if it is better or worse than normal. He or she may also be able to tell you why you have a vision problem.
The visual acuity score compares your distance vision with that of people who have normal vision, using an eye chart. Each eye's score is expressed as two numbers, such as 20/20 (6/6) or 20/100 (6/30). The first number is the distance you stand from the chart, usually 20 ft (6 m) when using a typical wall chart. The second number is the distance from which people with normal eyesight can read the same line on the eye chart.
20/20 (6/6) vision is considered normal. A person with 20/20 vision can see at 20 ft (6 m) what people with normal vision can see at this distance.
Your doctor will also tell you if you have reduced near vision.
The doctor tests your eyes with different lenses until the lens that corrects your vision the best (sometimes better than 20/20 or 6/6) is found. The result of a refraction test determines your prescription eyeglass or contact lens strength.
Normally, a person's visual field forms a rough circle with a natural blind spot. If your vision is normal, you should be able to see objects clearly throughout the entire visual field except for the area with the natural blind spot. When you are using both eyes to see, the blind spots do not interfere with your vision.
You may have vision loss in certain areas of the visual field if you are not able to see:
Abnormal results during Amsler grid testing include:
Gaps in different parts of the visual field may have many causes, including eye diseases (such as glaucoma and macular degeneration) or nervous system problems (such as stroke). If results on any of the visual field tests are abnormal, you will need further tests to determine the cause.
If visual field tests show that a person has a visual field that is 20 degrees or less, even with the help of glasses or contact lenses, he or she is considered legally blind.
People who have normal color vision are able to distinguish the colored numbers, symbols, or paths from the background of colored dots.
If you are not able to distinguish some or all of the colored patterns from the background, you may have a color vision problem. You may be able to pick out some patterns of colors but not others. Or you may be able to pick out patterns that are different from a person with normal vision, depending on what type of color vision problem you have.
Many conditions can change your vision test results. Your doctor will discuss any significant abnormal results with you in relation to your symptoms and past health.
Current as of:
January 24, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of: January 24, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
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