Tunnel vision is a visual field defect that involves a loss of peripheral vision.
There are many different causes, but some, like glaucoma, can eventually lead to blindness if left untreated. You should therefore see an eye specialist straight away if you suffer from tunnel vision.
Tunnel vision symptoms
Tunnel vision occurs when your peripheral or ‘side’ vision deteriorates or is lost altogether. The result is that you may only be able to see things in a small circle directly in front of your eyes, as if you were looking down a tunnel.
Many people do not realise they have tunnel vision if the loss of peripheral vision occurs over time. Hence it is important to get regular check-ups from an eye specialist; especially for those over 40 who are more at risk of developing glaucoma.
Causes of tunnel vision
There are many different causes of tunnel vision, some are more serious than others…
Damage to the optic nerve
The optic nerve transmits signals from the eyes to the brain. Any damage to the optic nerve, either through trauma or disease can cause tunnel vision to occur. Glaucoma is a fairly common eye disease that can damage the optic nerve by increasing the pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma is associated with a slow but steady loss of peripheral vision, and can lead to blindness if left untreated.
Damage to the retina
Damage to the peripheral areas of your retina can affect your peripheral vision. A condition called ‘retinitis pigmentosa’ is known to cause tunnel vision by damaging the retina, but it is quite rare.
Damage to the brain
A stroke or loss of blood to the brain can also result in a loss of peripheral vision.
Temporary tunnel vision
Sometimes tunnel vision can occur temporarily when the body produces high levels of adrenalin. Extreme panic, stress or anger can all cause temporary tunnel vision. Alcohol and drugs have also been shown to have an effect on peripheral vision. In these cases, normal vision will usually return on its own.
Treating tunnel vision
Treatment for tunnel vision depends on the cause. In the case of glaucoma, early detection and treatment can halt the loss of peripheral vision altogether.