Tunnel Vision: How It Feels to Lose Peripheral Vision

Tunnel vision means loss of peripheral vision. This means that you do not have a normal wide-angle field of vision despite the central vision being fine. Moderate to severe cases of peripheral vision problems may seem like looking through a narrow tube where its name “tunnel vision’ is derived from. Symptoms of peripheral vision loss include trouble seeing in dim light and decreased sense of navigation while walking.

Tunnel Vision

Tunnel Vision Causes

A common cause of peripheral vision loss or also called peripheral field defect is damage on the optic nerve-related to glaucoma. Eye “strokes” or occlusions that obstruct normal blood flow to the internal structures of the eye such as the optic nerve can lead to peripheral vision loss or tunnel vision.

A stroke or injury may also damage areas of the brain that process images which can lead to blind spots in the visual field. Common causes of peripheral vision loss include:

  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • Glaucoma
  • Detached retina
  • Eye strokes or occlusions
  • Concussions or head injuries
  • Optic neuritis

If you suspect any decrease or loss in your peripheral vision, visit your eye doctor right away for an eye exam that includes visual field testing. Sudden loss of peripheral vision may signify a detached retina that could mean a medical emergency that requires treatment as soon as possible to prevent blindness.

Tunnel Vision

Peripheral Vision Loss Treatments

Sadly, there are no simple vision correction treatments available to treat peripheral vision loss. Conventional eyeglasses or contact lenses cannot correct permanent peripheral vision loss. A special prism lens can sometimes be added to your prescription eyeglasses to expand the visual field for mild cases of peripheral vision loss.

If you have a condition like glaucoma, the best treatment for tunnel vision is prevention. Regularly take glaucoma medication to manage high eye pressure and risks of permanent optic nerve damage. Left untreated, glaucoma may lead to permanent peripheral vision loss and even blindness.

Some therapies may also be prescribed for treating blind spots caused by brain damage. Despite normal vision, some techniques that sports vision specialists use may be helpful to train yourself to see better in your peripheral visual field.

Keep in mind that reduced peripheral vision may hinder safe driving. If you have permanent peripheral vision loss, consider consulting a low vision specialist who can guide you about special optical devices or eyewear to aid with mobility problems due to tunnel vision.

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