You may know someone who is so focused on whatever goal he or she is seeking that you’ve told the person, “You’ve got tunnel vision about that.”
The person better hope not.
Tunnel vision is the colloquial term for a loss of a person’s peripheral vision. Your peripheral vision allows you to see objects all around you without turning your head or moving your eyes. Your peripheral vision helps you sense motion and walk without crashing into things. If you’ve ever juggled, the way you keep all the balls in sight is by letting peripheral vision do the seeing and not focusing directly on the ball right in front of your eyes. Peripheral vision allows you to see someone coming up from the side, although you may simply feel them because you’re not looking directly at them.
At Millennium Eye Center we can diagnose and help you deal with peripheral vision loss, which is usually related to another medical condition.
What is tunnel vision?
If you’re having peripheral vision loss, or tunnel vision, it means you no longer have the full wide-angle field of vision. Your central, focused vision could be fine. Moderate to severe cases of peripheral vision loss create a sensation of seeing through a narrow tube. It can also lead to difficulty see in dim light, and can make walking more challenging.
What causes a loss of peripheral vision?
Glaucoma is a common cause of damage to a patient’s peripheral vision, as it can damage the optic nerve. This is called a “peripheral field defect.”
Eye strokes, or occlusions, block normal blood flow to the eye’s internal structures, damaging the optic nerve.
A brain injury or stroke can damage the area of the brain that processes information from the optic nerve and allows peripheral vision.
These are the basic causes of peripheral vision loss:
- Retinitis pigmentosa
- Eye occlusions
- Detached retina
- Brain damage from stroke, disease, or trauma
- Neurological damage from optic neuritis
- Compressed optic nerve head
If you have a sudden decrease in your peripheral vision, this can be a sign of a detached retina.
Peripheral vision loss is usually permanent. For that reason, the best treatment is to try and prevent it. For instance, if a patient has glaucoma, the most common cause of tunnel vision, controlling your high eye pressure with the prescribed drops is of the utmost importance. Otherwise, the pressure can damage the optic nerve, leading to a loss of peripheral vision.
There is ongoing research into training the brains of people with blind spots in their peripheral vision. Vision therapy seems to be able to help people regain at least some visual field loss due to brain damage.
A special type of lens known as a prism may be able to be added to the patient’s eyeglasses to expand the field of view.
Is it time to come see us for your regular eye exam? Call us at Millennium Park Eye Center, (312) 996-2020, to make your appointment.
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