Visual Evoked Potential (VEP) Test: FSA Eligibility
What is a Visual Evoked Potential (VEP) Test?
A visual evoked potential (VEP) test is a type of medical diagnostic procedure that is used when patients experience changes in their vision that could be attributable to problems along the pathways of specific nerves in the brain. VEP tests are done by placing electrodes on the back of a patient's head and readings are taken through an electroencephalogram (EEG). Visual stimulus is presented to the patient, often which consists of an alternating checkerboard pattern on a computer screen, that allows doctors to analyze how a patient's brain receives and interprets visual signals.
Why are VEP tests done?
VEP tests are conducted when doctors suspect that vision problems can be a result of optic nerve issues, which can manifest themselves in loss of vision, double vision, blurred vision, flashing lights or alterations in the viewing of color. When conducting a VEP test, a doctor will measure the time it takes for the visual stimulus to travel from the eye to the occipital cortex, which can showcase whether nerve pathways are blocked or have other abnormal traits that could inhibit normal vision.
VEP tests are often critical examinations for multiple sclerosis, as the insulating layer around brain and spinal cord cells called the myelin sheath can be abnormal in individuals with MS, which can result in abnormal VEP readings. In most cases, VEP tests are used to detect past optic neuritis, or inflammation in the optic nerve, as well as optic nerve damage, tumors or lesions, glaucoma and ocular hypertension that can result in abnormal VEP tests and can contribute to vision irregularities (American Academy of Ophthalmology). Ultimately, VEP tests are one of the most reliable means of identifying more advanced vision issues and are covered by consumer-directed healthcare accounts like FSAs, HSAs, HRAs and LCFSAs.