Tears in her eyes

Peripheral Vision Loss


Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What is peripheral vision loss?

Peripheral vision loss is the loss of your ability to see things to the side or up and down from your central vision (the line of sight directly in front of you). You may lose peripheral vision on one or both sides of your visual field. Peripheral vision loss can also affect your ability to see objects above or below your central vision. The loss of peripheral vision in all directions (that is, leaving you with only central vision) is sometimes called tunnel vision.

Although peripheral vision loss can occur with a number of eye and even systemic conditions, it is most commonly associated with glaucoma, which causes deterioration of the optic nerve. The optic nerve transmits visual signals to the brain. Retinitis pigmentosa is a hereditary degeneration of the retina, the light-sensing tissue at the back of the eye, which can lead to tunnel vision. Retinal detachment, in which the retina detaches from the underlying blood vessels that supply it with oxygen and nutrients, can also cause peripheral vision loss. You may experience temporary loss of peripheral vision along with a migraine headache. Peripheral vision loss may also occur in serious conditions that affect the brain, such as stroke or brain tumor.

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Peripheral vision loss can occur in anyone, although older people are more likely to have the underlying conditions associated with it. If you experience peripheral vision loss, contact your health care provider promptly for diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause. Most people with peripheral vision loss need ongoing follow-up care for their medical condition or eye condition.

Occasionally, peripheral vision loss can be a sign of a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience peripheral vision loss along with other serious symptoms including loss of consciousness, severe headache, garbled or slurred speech, sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, and sudden change in vision, loss of vision, or eye pain.

Peripheral vision loss may be a symptom of a serious underlying condition or disease. Seek prompt medical care if you experience peripheral vision loss, even if it is temporary.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 19, 2016