When our vision is normal, we see from multiple angles: the front and the sides. But this wide angle of sight can be compromised by a variety of medical conditions and eye diseases.


What does tunnel vision feel like?

Tunnel vision, also called peripheral vision loss or PVL, is when you have a loss of your side vision. You can see well when staring straight ahead, but it seems as though you’re looking at things through a narrow tube.

You might have tunnel vision come on suddenly or it may be more gradual. It can affect your life in all kinds of ways, from sports to driving and even daily mobility.


Common causes of peripheral vision loss:

  • Optic nerve damage from glaucoma
  • Occlusions (the closing of blood vessels that block normal blood flow to the eye)
  • A stroke or brain injury affecting the image-processing parts of the brain
  • A detached retina
  • Retinitis pigmentosa (a rare inherited disease in which the retina degenerates over time)
  • Scotoma (blind spots in your visual field)
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Ocular migraine


Symptoms of peripheral vision loss:

The most common experience with PVL is that your central vision is just fine, but you have difficulty seeing from the side. The outer angles of your vision may seem distorted initially, and over time, you aren’t able to see anything on the periphery of your visual field.

You may have trouble seeing in low light or at night. Navigating while walking or orienting yourself can become difficult. Some people with PVL experience bumping into things, tripping, or falling.


Temporary vs. permanent loss of peripheral vision

If your PVL is caused by migraine, then it’s usually temporary. But if PVL is caused by other eye conditions, such as glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa, it is permanent.

There’s no treatment for PVL. A prism lens can sometimes be added to your glasses for certain kinds of PVL, but otherwise, there’s no correction that can be applied.


Prevention and protection

Prevention is the key, particularly when it comes to glaucoma. Because glaucoma is caused by high eye pressure, you can keep your glaucoma-related vision problems somewhat under control by seeing your eye doctor regularly, taking any medication or using eye drops your doctor prescribes, and even making lifestyle changes to rein in high blood pressure.

If you are experiencing tunnel vision, see your eye doctor for an eye exam. He or she will administer visual field testing to measure the scope of your vision.

If you do have PVL, your eye doctor may recommend that you work with a low vision specialist who can help you learn tips and tricks for living with PVL.

Are you experiencing tunnel vision, or do you have other vision concerns? Come see us. We’re here to help.

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