Updated on  February 20, 2024
5 min read

Peripheral Vision Loss (Tunnel Vision)

6 sources cited
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What is Peripheral Vision?

Peripheral or indirect vision is the part of your field of vision that occurs outside of your central vision. It allows you to:

  • See all around you without moving your eyes or turning your head
  • Helps you view objects and space outside of your central vision
  • Enables you to sense motion and walk, run, and drive without running into anything 

If you see something out of the corner of your eye, you’re using your peripheral vision. The standard person has a visual field of 170 degrees, with peripheral vision covering 100 degrees horizontally.

What are the Categories of Peripheral Vision?

Peripheral vision falls into three categories:

  • Near peripheral vision. Borders your central vision and extends 18 to 30 degrees of your visual field
  • Mid-peripheral vision. Extends from 30 to 60 degrees of your visual field
  • Far-peripheral vision. Extends from 60 to 100 degrees of your field of view

What are Peripheral Vision Loss Symptoms?

Peripheral vision loss (PVL) or tunnel vision means that your field of vision isn’t as wide as it should be. You may have visual symptoms that affect your side vision, even if your central vision is acute. 

Moderate to severe PVL may cause it to seem like you’re looking down a narrow tunnel. Other symptoms of peripheral vision loss include:

  • Poor night vision
  • Blind spots
  • Increased or decreased light sensitivity
  • Changes in pupil size
  • Seeing halos or glare around lights
  • Soreness in your eyes
  • Migraine headaches 
  • Nausea

What are the Causes of Tunnel Vision?

Peripheral sight loss may result from eye diseases, injuries, or other conditions outside the eye. These are some of the factors causing tunnel vision: 

1. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the most common cause of peripheral vision loss. Glaucoma is a disease that causes optic nerve damage, often due to elevated intraocular pressure.

2. Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa, or RP, refers to a group of eye conditions due to genetic mutations. You inherit these conditions and they affect the retina, resulting in night blindness, PVL, tunnel vision, and other vision problems.

3. Optic Nerve Atrophy (ONA)

Optic nerve atrophy is damage or degeneration of your optic nerve due to trauma, infection, insufficient oxygen or blood supply, tumors, or other causes. ONA may cause peripheral, central, or color vision loss.

4. Eye Strokes

Eye strokes, or retinal artery occlusion, are from clots in your eye’s blood vessels. The lack of blood flow to your eye can result in various vision problems, including PVL or total vision loss.

5. Detached Retina

Retinal detachment can be due to injuries, retinal inflammation, posterior vitreous detachment, tumors, and some eye surgeries. These conditions cause peripheral vision loss over time.

6. Brain Damage 

Brain damage due to stroke, disease, or injury can cause several visual impairments, including PVL.

7. Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis is the result of infections and immune diseases. It causes inflammation in the optic nerve, resulting in the loss of visual acuity, blurred vision, and blind spots.

8. Papilledema 

Papilledema is the swelling of your optic disc from elevated pressure in the brain. It can lead to severe visual disturbances and impairment, and even blindness.

9. Optic Nerve Compressions

Optic nerve compression happens when something puts pressure on the optic nerve. This could be a tumor or a build-up of fluids. Such untreated contractions can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness.

10. Head Injuries

Head injuries, such as concussions, can cause damage to your brain or eye. This may result in any of the eye conditions above.

Schedule a comprehensive eye exam if you notice any changes in your peripheral vision. Catching PVL early on will increase your chances of saving your sight.

How To Test Peripheral Vision

Eye doctors perform a visual field test to check your peripheral vision. It’s a simple, painless, and non-invasive procedure that involves these steps:

  1. The eye doctor will set up a visual field test to check your peripheral vision
  2. You’ll sit comfortably, and they’ll place a device in front of your face
  3. The doctor will cover one of your eyes to test each eye’s peripheral vision individually
  4. While looking straight ahead, lights will flash at various points around the bowl of the device
  5. The doctor will instruct you to press a button whenever you perceive a light

Peripheral Vision Loss Treatment Options

Managing peripheral vision loss (PVL) presents unique challenges, as treatment options largely depend on the underlying causes. Here are some refined approaches to addressing PVL:

1. Prism Eyeglass Lenses

These special lenses help expand the field of peripheral vision. They’re particularly beneficial for those experiencing PVL, offering a non-invasive way to enhance visual perception.

2. Targeted Treatments for Eye Conditions

For conditions like glaucoma, which can lead to PVL, specific treatments can slow the progression of vision loss. It’s crucial to adhere to the prescribed regimen, including regular eye doctor visits and consistent medication usage, to protect and preserve eye health.

3. Vision Therapy Techniques

These innovative, doctor-supervised programs involve visual exercises designed to rectify vision impairments. Such techniques help restore parts of the lost visual field in some people.

4. Consultation with Low-Vision Specialists 

For irreversible peripheral vision loss, visit low-vision specialists for specialized optical devices. These devices aid in mobility challenges due to PVL and also work towards enhancing visual skills.


Peripheral vision loss can result from various eye diseases, brain damage, and other conditions. Regular comprehensive eye exams can help detect and treat PVL in its early stages.

If you notice any changes in your peripheral vision, consult an eye doctor immediately to protect and preserve your sight. Adhere to treatments and consider specialized optical devices or vision therapy techniques for managing PVL to keep your eyes healthy.

Updated on  February 20, 2024
6 sources cited
Updated on  February 20, 2024
  1. New Glasses May Help Minimize Peripheral Vision Loss.” Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 2016.
  2. Peli et al. “The Risk of Pedestrian Collisions with Peripheral Visual Field Loss.” Journal of Vision, 2016.
  3. Strasburger et al. “Peripheral Vision and Pattern Recognition: A Review.” Journal of Vision, 2011.
  4. Mcilreavy et al. “Visual Field Loss, Eye Movements and Visual Search.” Journal of Vision, 2010.
  5. Zheleznyak et al. “Optical and Neural Anisotropy in Peripheral Vision.” Journal of Vision, 2016.
  6. Retinitis Pigmentosa.” National Eye Institute, 2023.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.