Wired for Vision?

Have you ever had the experience of performing a visual field test at your eye doctor’s office? If you have, you probably remember how tedious and nerve-racking it was. Visual fields have been a mainstay in the armamentarium of ophthalmic diagnostic tests for many years. It gives valuable information regarding the function of the optic nerve when performed correctly. But there’s the catch – visual fields are dependent on a person’s ability to fully concentrate for at least 5 minutes (or more). This is not easy to do and thus makes this test somewhat subjective. Many people would be happy if they never did another visual field in their lifetime.

Enter electrophysiology. Not necessarily a new diagnostic test as it’s been around for quite a few years, but up until recently¬†electrophysiology¬†has been¬†relegated to the confines of large academic centers due to the large amount of space it required and the relatively few ocular conditions it could diagnose. Now, thanks to modern technology, advances in both hardware and software have brought this diagnostic modality into the clinic. By placing electrodes on the front and back of your head we can measure optic nerve function (VEP) and/or retinal function (ERG) without you having to click away every time you see a tiny white light.

At LOC, we are employing VEP/ERG to monitor conditions such as Glaucoma and Diabetic Eye Disease. Our results so far have been encouraging and most patients much prefer this over visual fields. No one knows for sure if this will replace visual fields, but it sure is a lot easier!

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