What is Peripheral Vision Loss?
Peripheral vision problems mean that you don’t have a normal, wide-angle field of vision, even though your central vision may be fine. Moderate and severe cases of peripheral vision loss create the sensation of seeing through a narrow tube, a condition commonly referred to as “tunnel vision.”
What are the causes?
According to The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the causes can be associated with:
- Diabetic Retinopathy: This is when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels can swell, leak or close, stopping blood from passing through. Sometimes abnormal new blood vessels grow on the retina. All of these changes can steal your vision.
- Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve. It usually happens when fluid builds up in the front part of your eye. That extra fluid increases the pressure in your eye, damaging the optic nerve.
- Retinitis Pigmentosa: Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of eye problems that affect the retina. This condition changes how the retina responds to light, making it hard to see. People with retinitis pigmentosa lose their vision slowly over time. Usually, though, they will not become totally blind.
- Brain damage from stroke, disease or injury: A stroke or injury also may damage portions of the brain where images are processed, leading to blind spots in the visual field.
- Detached Retina: The sudden appearance of spots, floaters or flashes of light may be a warning sign of a detached retina. Your vision might become blurry, or you might have poor vision. Another sign is seeing a shadow or a curtain descending from the top of the eye or across from the side.
Is there a treatment?
A type of lens known as a prism lens may sometimes can be added to your eyeglass prescription to expand your field of view if you have certain types of peripheral vision loss.
If you have glaucoma, you absolutely must take your prescribed glaucoma medication regularly to control high eye pressure, or you risk permanent optic nerve damage and development of blind spots in your visual field. Left untreated, glaucoma can lead to permanent loss of peripheral vision and even blindness.
If you have permanent loss of peripheral vision, you should consider visiting a low vision specialist who can advise you about special eyewear or optical devices that might help with mobility problems caused by tunnel vision. A specialist can help someone with low vision to use his or her functional vision more effectively.
How can I protect my vision?
Many people don’t know they have eye disease because there are often no warning signs or symptoms, or they assume that difficulties with vision are just a natural part of growing older. Early detection and treatment of eye problems is the best way to keep your healthy vision throughout your life.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40. For individuals at any age with symptoms of or at risk for eye disease, the Academy recommends that individuals see their ophthalmologist to determine how frequently their eye should be examined.
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