Peripheral Vision Loss

Peripheral vision loss is also defined as tunnel vision. We are so accustomed to our wide angle vision that we take for granted the vision we have to the sides of what we're focusing on. This vision may not be as clear as what we're directly focusing on but the eye sees it and the brain is able to process it. Tunnel vision can be a sudden occurrence or may develop slowly.

Symptoms of Peripheral Vision Loss

Besides tunnel vision, in which sufferes cannot see things clearly outside the center of the field of view, symptoms sometimes reported in this condition include:

  • Swelling of the eye(s)
  • Extreme sensitivity to light
  • Poor night vision
  • Bright lights that present with a halo or glare
  • Flashing lights or floating objects
  • Pupil size that is not normal
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting and nausea

The following accompanying symptoms are a medical emergency and you should seek medical attention immediately:

  • Paralysis or weakness on one side of the body
  • Severe migraine pain
  • Pupils which are not reactive to light
  • Losing consciousness
  • Behavioral changes like hallucinations
  • Difficulty speaking or making no sense
  • Sudden onset of eye pain, vision loss or vision change

Causes of Peripheral Vision Loss

1. Detached Retina

There are many causes that may trigger the retina to detach from the back of the eye. It may feel as if there is a curtain being pulled across your vision obscuring your peripheral vision.

2. Retinitis Pigmentosa

This is a rare condition that occurs when the outer edges of the retina are damaged.

3. Eye Stroke

The eye blood vessels become blocked and there is insufficient oxygen and nutrients to the tissues of the eye, including a buildup of waste products. This will obscure normal vision.

4. Glaucoma

Pressure in the eye increases, especially with aging. This applies pressure on the optic nerve. This condition deteriorates the vision over a period of time. Untreated glaucoma can ultimately lead to total vision loss.

5. Optic Neuritis

This is the inflammation of the optic nerve which transmits signals between the brain and the eye. The inflammation will interfere with the transmission of messages between the brain and the eye thereby creating your tunnel vision.

6. Papilledema

Increased pressure within the brain, called intracranial pressure, can cause the region where the nerves exit the eye to swell. This interferes with normal vision.

7. Stroke

A stroke occurs when there is impaired blood flow to the brain. This can cause damage to the part of the brain responsible for sight. It is also possible that the optic nerve and the retina are also affected by the stroke.

8. Concussion

Head trauma that causes concussion may be so severe that it causes tunnel vision. This is temporary in most cases and normal vison is restored once healing takes place.

9. Alcohol and Some Drugs

The body may respond to these elements by spiking adrenalin levels. This may cause tunnel vision that is temporary.

10. Migraines

Some migraines are so severe that your eyes are unable to withstand light entering it. It may cause temporary tunnel vision.

11. Psychological Stress

Extreme emotions may elicit a radical response in your body. This is also related to high adrenalin levels. It is directly related to the fright-flight response of the body.

How to Treat Peripheral Vision Loss

Tunnel vision that is permanent can unfortunately not be fully restored. The best way forward is to treat the condition that may be causing the tunnel vision and take steps to slow down the progression. Some treatments to minimize or prevent it are:

  1. A special type of prism lens can be fitted into your normal spectacles to increase the peripheral view.
  2. Prevent glaucoma: if you are at risk of developing glaucoma, ensure you get the proper medical treatment. Some of the at-risk groups are:
  • people over the age of 60
  • if you have a family history of glaucoma
  • Certain race groups like African-American are predisposed to developing glaucoma.

Prevention usually entails instilling drops to keep the intraocular pressure low. This will prevent pressure on the optic nerve and keep the tunnel vision at bay. Remember that untreated glaucoma has permanent tunnel vision or even total blindness as an effect. So have your regular eye exams to prevent vision loss.

  1. Prevent eye trauma by wearing protective eye wear when playing certain sports like squash/racquetball. Some occupations can also put your eyesight at risk, so wear protective goggles.
  2. Vision therapy: this new form of therapy entails using some techniques to regain any lost vision, especially if it is due to the brain's primary visual cortex.
  3. Sports vision specialists can help you pay attention to the periphery vision field. This is especially helpful if you play competitive sports like baseball or basketball. You can preempt certain moves by paying attention to what players around you are doing.
  4. Consult a low vision specialist who can advise you on what special optical devices or specific eyewear is available to enhance and make the most of the vision you have left. This person can also deem you fit for driving your vehicle legally if you fulfill certain criteria. Driving a car safely relies on substantial peripheral vision.
  1. Regular exercise has been shown to decrease intraocular pressure. Additionally, exercise also decreases your hypertension further decreasing your risk for tunnel vision.
  2. Some preliminary studies have found that vitamin A treatment may slow down vision loss caused by retinitis pigmentosa.
 
 
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