Tunnel Vision

Tunnel vision is a visual field defect that involves a loss of peripheral vision. A loss of peripheral vision could be a sign of glaucoma, and should be treated straight away.

There are many different causes, but some, like glaucoma, can eventually lead to blindness if left untreated. You should therefore see an eye doctor straight away if you suffer from tunnel vision.

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Tunnel vision occurs when your peripheral or ‘side’ vision, deteriorates, or is lost altogether. The result is that you may only be able to see things in a small circle directly in front of your eyes, as if you were looking down a tunnel.

It may sound like an obvious symptom but many people don’t realise they have tunnel vision when the loss of peripheral vision occurs over some time. That’s why it’s important to get regular check-ups from an eye specialist, especially for those over 40 who are more at risk of developing glaucoma.


There are many different causes of tunnel vision, and some are more serious than others.

Damage to the optic nerve
The optic nerve transmits signals from the eyes to the brain. Any damage to the optic nerve, either through trauma or disease, can cause tunnel vision to occur. Glaucoma is a fairly common eye disease that can damage the optic nerve by increasing the pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma is associated with a slow but steady loss of peripheral vision, and can lead to blindness if left untreated.

Damage to the retina
Damage to the peripheral areas of your retina can affect your peripheral vision. A condition called retinitis pigmentosa is known to cause tunnel vision by damaging the retina, but it is quite rare.

Damage to the brain
A stroke or loss of blood to the brain can also result in a loss of peripheral vision.

Temporary tunnel vision
Sometimes, tunnel vision can occur temporarily when the body produces high levels of adrenalin. Extreme panic, stress or anger can all cause temporary tunnel vision. Alcohol and drugs have also been shown to have an effect on peripheral vision. In these cases, normal vision will usually return without treatment.


Treatment depends on the cause. In the case of glaucoma, early detection and treatment can halt the loss of peripheral vision altogether, In any case, it’s important to be seen by an expert as soon as possible if you have tunnel vision.

If you are concerned that you may have symptoms of tunnel vision then make an appointment with an expert at Eye Institute today.

Make an appointment

Request an appointment online, phone us on 0800 99 2020, or email us at enquiries@eyeinstitute.co.nz

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