What is tunnel vision and how to treat it | Inquirer

What is tunnel vision and how to treat it

/ 10:28 AM September 26, 2022

Have you ever experienced an incident when you’re just clearly seeing what’s directly in front of you? If the answer is yes, then you’ve experienced tunnel vision. It is a condition where there’s peripheral vision loss. While there are different causes for the condition, it can also be permanent or just a temporary happenstance. 

In most cases, tunnel vision occurs due to eye problems or other medical conditions. If you experience peripheral vision loss (PVL)often, it’s best to seek medical help to help prevent any serious eye conditions. In this article, we’ll give you the full details about this eye condition, its symptoms, preventive measures, and medical treatments.

What is tunnel vision? 

What is tunnel vision? 

Photo Credit: Sander Sammy

It is an eye condition with sudden or permanent loss of peripheral sight. This means that your central or direct vision is clear but your peripheral vision is missing or blurry. PVL varies depending on the case. It can occur in the left or right eye. And it can also occur in both eyes.


Symptoms of tunnel vision

Symptoms of tunnel vision

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When you have this eye condition, it feels like you’re looking through a narrow, dark tunnel. Your peripheral vision (side vision) is blurry or nonexistent, and your central vision (straight-ahead vision) is very clear. Thus, the term “tunnel vision” is applied to peripheral vision loss. While it’s normal to focus intensely at times, too much peripheral vision loss (PVL) can be alarming. Luckily, by recognizing these symptoms, you can take steps to address the problem.

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  • Trouble in crossing crowds
  • Bumping of objects or people often
  • Falling over
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Tripping
  • Struggles in driving

While some of these evident symptoms are worrisome, it’s best to know the underlying causes of these symptoms. Some of the symptoms depend on what causes a person’s tunnel vision. We’ll continue digging through the possible causes with additional details.


It is an ocular condition that can cause vision loss due to optic nerve damage. This is according to the National Eye Institute. Your optic nerves lie at the back of your eye. It’s also responsible in sending visual information from the eye to the brain. More often than not, too much pressure inside the eyes can cause Glaucoma. 

Furthermore, there are various types of Glaucoma and open-angle is the most common. In the early stages, this eye condition doesn’t normally show symptoms. But if not treated, a person can slowly experience PVL. If the tunnel vision becomes too often, glaucoma is in its advanced stage. 


Migraine can cause different visual disturbances called an aura. Some people might see movement or shapes while others may experience temporary peripheral vision loss. Normally, an aura lasts for about 20-60 minutes. If a migraine causing tunnel vision hasn’t cleared in that time frame, or if it comes with other symptoms, you should seek medical help.


It’s good to have a health professional check your peripheral vision after you’ve had a stroke. Most people suffer from PVL after experiencing a stroke, usually affecting both eyes. You will be required to undergo a visual field test at your eye doctor’s office. The good thing is that some patients experience full or partial recovery of tunnel vision or any stroke-related visual effects over time.

Diabetic retinopathy

Those who have diabetes usually experience this vision loss condition. According to NEI, too much sugar level in the blood can damage the retina. This is the part of your eyes that identifies the light and sends signals to the brain. 


In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, a patient normally won’t have any symptoms. However, there’s a possibility of small changes in vision, and difficulty reading and seeing far objects. While in the later stages, blood vessels in the retina could bleed leading to visuals of dark and floating spots. Some can even see cobweb-like streaks.  

Is tunnel vision permanent?

Photo Credit: Garin Chadwick

Depending on what causes this eye condition, if it’s severe, it can lead to permanent vision loss. But if PVL occurs due to migraine, it’s more likely that it is just temporary. While treatment may not be able to repair eye damage, it can help alleviate the condition from getting worse. 

In addition, if the tunnel vision is caused by a stroke, some cases can improve even without medical treatments. Moreover, if a recovery is possible, it will happen within the first 3-6 months after the stroke. But, it’s still hard to determine whether the peripheral vision loss will be permanent or temporary. It is still best to consult your doctor as soon as possible. 

Prevention of peripheral vision loss

First things first, take care of your overall health. Have your doctor regularly check your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. That way, you are lowering your risk of complications like stroke or diabetic retinopathy. In addition, there are still other ways to prevent this eye condition by following these tips:

  • Indulge in a healthy diet.
  • Quit or avoid smoking.
  • Visit your eye doctor regularly if you can.
  • Maintain the correct weight for you
  • Keep your blood sugar levels steady to lower your chance of diabetes.
  • Wear sunglasses when going outdoors
  • Clean contact lenses and hands to avoid infections.
  • Wear protective eyewear when needed.

How to cope with tunnel vision

Loss of peripheral view isn’t only alarming but it can certainly affect your daily life. To help cope with this type of vision loss, you can ask for help from counselors and join support groups. You can also consult your doctor on how to:

  • Set up your home so you can move around safely and easily
  • Access eye rehabilitation and other treatment options
  • Train on using magnifying gadgets

When to see a doctor

As soon as you experience the symptoms of tunnel vision, visit your doctor as soon as possible. By doing so, you can lower the chances of having permanent peripheral vision loss. It’s best to visit an opthalmologist for optimal advice and prescriptions.

Once you’ve explained your symptoms, an opthalmologist might do a comprehensive dilated eye exam. This is to check the insides of your eyes. Your doctor will give you eye drops to dilate the pupil and then check it using a light.

Key Takeaway

what you need to know about tunnel vision

Photo Credit: Amanda Dalbjörn

The good news is that there are treatments for tunnel vision, depending on the underlying cause.In some cases, glasses or contact lenses can help improve vision. There are also medications that can help if the condition is due to problems with the eye itself. If you’re experiencing tunnel vision, it’s important to see your doctor and get a diagnosis so you can start treatment and regain your full visual field.


What does tunnel vision feel like?

This eye condition is also called peripheral vision loss (PVL). You can see clearly when looking ahead but the sides can be blurry or dark. Which would feel like you’re looking through a tunnel.

Can dehydration cause tunnel vision?

Yes, dehydration can be a factor contributing to the symptoms of this eye condition. Dehydration can cause eye strains such as blurred vision, tired eyes, double vision, and headaches. These are the results when your eyes don’t have proper lubrication. Drinking lots of water can help properly hydrate your eyes to help prevent any eye conditions.

Is tunnel vision a symptom of anxiety?

Experiencing a loss of peripheral view can be a sign of anxiety disorder. In addition, it can also be a symptom of social anxiety, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Tunnel vision can also include anxiety symptoms such as trembling, racing heart, dizziness, sweating, tension, and palpitations.

Read more: Laser Eye Surgery: Fully Explained

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