Overcoming the language barrier in visual field testing

J Glaucoma. 2001 Jun;10(3):203-5. doi: 10.1097/00061198-200106000-00010.


Purpose: To evaluate the effect of using recorded instructions in patients' native language compared with interpreter-assisted instructions on the reliability and duration of the visual field test.

Patients and methods: Sixty patients referred for visual field testing were included in the study. Thirty-five had limited or no knowledge of the Hebrew language, and 25 control patients were fluent in Hebrew, the native language. None had previous experience with automated perimetry. Patients were randomized to receive recorded instructions on the visual field test in their native language or translator-assisted instructions by the technician before performing the test. For each patient, the time required for instructions and test performance and the reliability indices were documented.

Results: The method of instruction (recorded or interpreter-assisted) did not affect the time required for patient instructions (66 +/- 24 seconds and 57 +/- 30 seconds, respectively), the time for test performance (7.2 +/- 1.5 minutes and 7.8 +/- 1.8 minutes, respectively), and test reliability as measured by the rate of fixation losses. Regardless of the method of explanation, the time required for instructions and for performing the test were significantly shorter for Hebrew speakers than for non-Hebrew speakers.

Conclusion: The use of a recorded explanation in the patient's native language before visual field testing is an applicable method for patient instruction. Clinics in areas with multilingual populations may use this method to save technicians time, without adversely affecting the time required for performing the test and its reliability.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Communication Barriers*
  • Female
  • Glaucoma / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Time Factors
  • Vision Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Visual Field Tests
  • Visual Fields*