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Tunnel Vision

Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Questions & Related Topics

Key Points

  • Tunnel vision is a condition characterized by loss of peripheral vision, making it seem like you're looking through a tunnel.
  • The main causes of tunnel vision include glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, eye stroke, brain stroke, retinal detachment, optic neuritis, and concussion.
  • Prevention strategies for tunnel vision involve regular eye exams, a healthy lifestyle, not smoking, treating existing eye conditions, and managing diabetes.
  • Treatment options for tunnel vision vary from eye drops and pills to lower inner-eye pressure, vitamin A supplements, corticosteroids, vision therapy, laser treatment, surgery, and implants.
  • Tunnel vision is also known as peripheral vision loss, glaucoma, tubular vision, or narrowed vision.

Possible Symptoms for Tunnel Vision

  • Loss of peripheral vision.
  • Perception of looking through a tunnel.

Top 7 Tunnel Vision Causes

1. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, which is the nerve in your eye that sends the images you see to your brain. Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness in the U.S. There are 4 major types of glaucoma: open-angle, angle-closure, congenital, and secondary. Tunnel vision can be caused by either open-angle or secondary glaucoma.

2. Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of rare, genetic disorders that cause slow, progressive vision loss in retinal cells. These eye conditions are passed from parents to children and result from harmful changes that occur in any one of more than 50 genes. Retinitis pigmentosa can lead to tunnel vision and difficulty seeing at night.

3. Eye Stroke

An eye stroke, also known as retinal vein occlusion, occurs when a blockage forms in one of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina. Risk factors for an eye stroke include atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypertension, and other eye conditions such as glaucoma and macular edema. An eye stroke can cause tunnel vision and sudden blurred vision.

4. Brain Stroke

A stroke in the brain occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is stopped or cut off for longer than a few seconds. This can cause brain cells to die and lead to long-lasting or permanent brain damage. A stroke can lead to eyesight problems such as tunnel vision if the brain cells responsible for controlling vision are affected.

5. Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment occurs when the retina is lifted or pulled from its normal position. This can lead to tunnel vision, along with blurred vision and a sudden increase in floaters.

Retinal detachment is commonly caused by trauma, severe nearsightedness, uncontrolled diabetes, trauma, and a family history of retinal detachment.

6. Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis occurs when the optic nerve in the eye becomes swollen or inflamed. This eye condition can lead to tunnel vision, abnormal reactions to bright light, pain when moving the eye, loss of color vision, and temporary loss of vision in the affected eye. The exact cause of optic neuritis is unknown, but researchers have linked this eye problem to a number of autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis, and bacterial, viral, and respiratory infections.

7. Concussion

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a sudden bump or blow to the brain or body that makes the head move rapidly back and forth. This movement often causes the brain to shift around inside the skull and results in changes to brain chemistry and damage to brain cells. A concussion can often lead to short-or long-term tunnel vision and other eyesight problems.

6 Ways to Prevent Tunnel Vision

1. Get Regular Eye Exams

A comprehensive dilated eye exam allows your doctor to detect and treat common eye diseases like glaucoma in their early stages. People who have diabetes should receive an eye exam every year. Adults aged 60 and older, African-Americans aged 40 and older, and people with a family history of glaucoma should have an eye exam every 2 years. Being diagnosed and treated for an eye condition in its early stages can help you prevent tunnel vision or total vision loss.

2. Eat Healthy Foods

Foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can help you maintain good eyesight and eye health. Eat plenty of dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens, as well as higher amounts of fatty fish with omega-3s such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are other foods that may help prevent eyesight problems like tunnel vision.

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese increases your risk for diabetes and other medical conditions that can lead to glaucoma and eyesight problems like tunnel vision. Exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, reduce stress, and get plenty of sleep to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. If you are experiencing difficulty with losing excess weight or maintaining a healthy weight, work with your doctor to identify and treat the root cause.

4. Quit Smoking or Don’t Start

Smoking has been linked to an increased risk for vision problems like optic nerve damage that can cause tunnel vision. Don’t start smoking, and quit smoking as soon as possible if you’re currently a smoker. Talk to your doctor about safe and effective smoking cessation programs if you need help quitting.

5. Treat Known Eye Conditions

If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, or another eye condition, continue seeing your doctor for treatment before your condition progresses to tunnel vision. Take eye medications as directed, and report any new symptoms or worsened vision to your doctor. Managing and treating your eye condition is one of the most effective ways to prevent tunnel vision and related symptoms.

6. Manage Diabetes

When not managed properly, diabetes can lead to complications such as glaucoma and partial or total vision loss. If you have diabetes, work with your doctor to properly manage your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and receive a dilated eye exam at least once per year.

Possible Tunnel Vision Treatment Options

  • Eye drops
  • Pills that lower inner-eye pressure
  • Vitamin A supplements
  • Corticosteroids
  • Vision therapy
  • Laser treatment
  • Surgery
  • Implants

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Tunnel Vision Treatment

  • When did you begin noticing symptoms?
  • Have you been diagnosed with diabetes?
  • Have you been diagnosed with another eye condition?
  • Are you experiencing any other symptoms related to poor vision?
  • Have you recently suffered a stroke?
  • Have you recently suffered an accident or injury to the head?
  • What types of foods do you eat?
  • Are you a smoker?
  • When was your last eye exam?

Tunnel Vision May Also be Known as:

  • Peripheral vision loss
  • Glaucoma
  • Tubular vision
  • Narrowed vision

Frequently asked questions

  • What are the symptoms of tunnel vision?

    The main symptom of tunnel vision is a loss of peripheral vision, which gives the sensation of looking through a tunnel.
  • What are the main causes of tunnel vision?

    Tunnel vision can be caused by several factors including glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, eye stroke, brain stroke, retinal detachment, optic neuritis, and concussion.
  • How can tunnel vision be prevented?

    Prevention strategies include regular eye exams, maintaining a healthy diet and weight, not smoking, treating known eye conditions, and managing diabetes.
  • What are the treatment options for tunnel vision?

    Treatment options range from eye drops and pills that lower inner-eye pressure to vitamin A supplements, corticosteroids, vision therapy, laser treatment, surgery, and implants.
  • What other names is tunnel vision known by?

    Tunnel vision is also referred to as peripheral vision loss, glaucoma, tubular vision, or narrowed vision.
  • What questions might a doctor ask when discussing tunnel vision treatment?

    A doctor might ask when symptoms began, if the patient has been diagnosed with diabetes or another eye condition, and if they have recently suffered a stroke or head injury.
  • Can a healthy lifestyle help in preventing tunnel vision?

    Yes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and not smoking can help in preventing tunnel vision.
  • Is tunnel vision always permanent?

    No, the permanency of tunnel vision depends on its cause. Some causes may lead to permanent vision loss, while others may be temporary or treatable.

Solv has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

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