In the field
Optical assistant, Lisa Skelton, discusses carrying out visual field tests
29 February 2020
Top tips for optical assistants who are learning how to do visual field tests
- Always ask the optometrist for clarification if you are unsure at any stage
- Explain clearly to the patient what you are doing at every step taking care to avoid using technical jargon
- Make sure the patient is comfortable and stop for a break if necessary
- Practise on your colleagues first, and then practise some more.
What’s your role?
I started as an optical assistant about 10 years ago, joining an independent practice in Coventry. Within this time, I have progressed to the role of senior team leader taking on a growing number of responsibilities, which includes providing clinical support for the optometrists in the practice.
What do you find most challenging about doing visual fields?
One of the biggest challenges that I face when performing a visual field test is ensuring that the patient is in a comfortable position. This can be a little awkward at times, for example, due to the patient’s lack of mobility or problems with their posture. Patients will often ask why they are having this test, so it is important to try and explain in layman's terms to help them understand the process. Another common question from patients is ‘How did I do?’, and it is essential to recognise my limitations and direct them to the optometrist in order to offer a clinical opinion at this point.
How long have you been doing visual fields?
I have been using the visual field machine for about nine years, during which time we have had two different models, although the way we conduct the test is essentially the same. I usually perform a visual field test as part of the pre-screening process so that the optometrist has the results to hand prior to the sight test. The practice has a clear protocol of when a visual field test should be undertaken, for instance, patients with a family history of glaucoma. I have been trained to interpret the record card beforehand to make sure that the patient has adequate vision in each eye to perform the test; this avoids the awkward scenario where the patient reports they are blind in the eye you are attempting to test.
Other articles in this series
- Understanding the test types Dr Lindsay Rountree introduces the most frequently used visual field tests in routine practice
- A perfect match How artificial intelligence is being applied to visual fields
- The visual pathway Dr Samantha Strong shares a journey through the visual pathway
- The patient and the visual field test Dr Lindsay Rountree discusses making the patient’s experience of visual field testing a positive one
- What the future holds Dr Laura Edwards and Dr Lindsay Rountree discuss their take on research into visual field
- Visual fields: the jargon OT explores the terms commonly used on a visual field plot