Can people tell me how long it took to perform this test please?

I ask because my consultant told me he wanted an eye scan which now transpires to be a VEP.

My exhaustion is beyond belief most of the time, so a 1 1/2 hour journey to the hospital plus looking at screen would be beyond me I suspect, as 5 minutes looking at a computer screen or TV is more than enough. I would so hate to waste the hospital time and feel even more inadequate with my limitations than I already do.

Many thanks.


It is quite a long test - definitely not five minutes - more like an hour, I’m afraid.

Do you live somewhere very remote? It’s just that it seems the issue is mainly one of the excessive travel time, rather than the nature of the test itself. Is there nowhere it can be performed closer to home?

The test does not involve having to think or answer any questions about what it is you are seeing. It’s all fully automatic. Yes, it does require you actually to be awake and have your eyes open, but otherwise a very non-demanding test.


A VEP Test will take longer than your five minutes.
Maybe you should consider getting to the hospital earlier and having a good relax before any test.

The process is usually having your head wired up with a load of electrodes, then fixating your gaze on the middle of a screen that shows a set of alternating chequer-board patterns.
The big thing about it is that all you have to do is fixate your gaze (no judgements, no watching for tiny flashes of light, etc) because all that matters is the change in brain activity with the change in pattern.
It can give a good idea of the function of the whole visual system from the eyeballs back - and most of this is in the brain.

It could take up to 45 minutes, but not all of it is staring at the screen (they have to put the electrodes on, and remove them).


Thanks for the info, as I suspected the test isn’t feasible for me as I can not keep my eyes open that long looking at a screen even it involves doing nothing.

I think you may be being a little to hasty. Typically I think the aim is for two test recordings from each eye. The individual recordings themselves can be of quite short duration if need be, sometimes as little as 60 seconds or less. If even 60 seconds is too long, it might be acceptable to do several more for each eye but of shorter duration since they can be averaged together. I believe various means have developed to overcome such difficulties e.g. because they sometimes need to perform VEP tests on unwilling/unco-operative infants.

Thanks for this I will talk to the neurologist next week hopefully and find out exactly what is required duration wise and see what he says. I had decided I was far to much of a chicken to have the LP due to my cousin being left unable to walk after hers a couple of years ago.

Bottom line is I I’m not fussed if I get a diagnoses or not as the consultant said the drugs used to help with fatigue gave such bad side effects he wouldn’t prescribe them. The fatigue I can’t cope with everything else I can.

Whether drug side effects are “acceptable” is not a fixed yes or no answer, but depends very much on the severity of the problem they are supposed to treat.

Assuming you are not exaggerating, and you literally couldn’t stay awake for 45 minutes for a VEP, or even for five minutes watching TV, this is severely interfering with everyday life, and (in my opinion) worth risking a few side-effects for.

I’ve not heard of ANY really severe or life-threatening side effects with the two main anti-fatigue drugs, Amantadine and Modafinil. The latter is getting quite hard to get hold of for new prescriptions, although most people who were already on it have been allowed to stay on it. But Amantadine is still on the approved list for MS fatigue.

So the issue is not simply whether it has side effects, but whether they outweigh the benefits. Some people get few or no side effects. But if they’re unlikely to be life-changing or life-threatening if you did, and would simply go away again if you stopped the drug, it seems excessively cautious to say it’s not even worth trying.

Understandably, most anti-fatigue drugs are some sort of stimulant, and therefore contra-indicated if you suffer from anxiety - which I do, and have therefore never been prescribed them. But if there’s nothing like that that makes them unsuitable for you personally, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be allowed to try.


I am having VEP later today, along with my lumbar puncture! Nervous does not even begin to cover it!

Anyway, my letter from the hospital states the VEP will take about 45 minutes.

The hospital I have to go to is over 30 miles from where I live, so it is a bit of a pain having to travel and then in a few weeks, I will have to go back for results but at least I am getting closer to getting some answers!

Very good luck with them both.

I’ve been seen at one hospital which is a 90 mile round trip but as this hospital does not do the VEP I have to go over 60 miles in the opposite direction from my home so 120 miles in total.

Thank you for that. I am lucky, I have my husband who is driving me there and back. I will post afterwards with my experience if it will help others who are waiting for the same tests. Trying not to dwell on what can go wrong, its the LP that I am feeling anxious about!

Hey DG, how are yer ? Think I had this coupla decades back. Stuff stuck to my head. Watched tv for reaction, and had shocks on my feet to register in brain. At one point he was getting nothing (we were talking music) so he kept turning up the power. He realised he hadn’t flicked a switch, so he did and tried again…but hadn’t turned down the voltage… Never really took in what the name of it was… Andy


I found that the LP was not as bad as I expected. But I did learn:

  • They give you a local where the main needle will go in - ask them to wait another minute for it to really take effect before they start.First attempted insertion was uncomfortable so they said they would try again after a couple of minutes, I asked ehen they were going to do it. The answer was that it was already done!.
  • When it is done, do not move, then have an offered tea or coffee (or bring some Coke with you), it’s the caffeine you need.

I (we, wife was with me) walked through the hospital to have a blood sample taken, then back to the day treatment unit, then to the car, and drove home. No side effects.
It’s the resting afterward, and the drink that seems to make all the difference.
Actually, having the blood taken was far worse (two people, four tries to get a needle in!).


Have you thought about booking into a local hotel for the night before the tests, if you’re worried the drive and tests are going to wear you out too much? I know you don’t tend to relax as easily in a hotel as at home, but it should make it easier for you…

I’m not capable or safe driving that far so someone would have to take me anyway. Still doesn’t solve the problem of not being able to sit and look at a screen for very long.