top of page

What is Tunnel Vision

What Is Tunnel Vision

Tunnel vision can be a frustrating eye condition, as it affects your ability to see, but it can also be scary, too, as it can come on suddenly and with little warning.

Some of the ways that tunnel vision has been described is that your vision seems to have narrowed, or that you can no longer see objects in your peripherals.

It can often come as an accompaniment to certain health issues or anxiety, and can even precede them as a warning of sorts.

Read on to learn more about tunnel vision– what it is, as well as what can cause it.

Interested in checking on your eye health? Book an Eye Exam today!

What Is Tunnel Vision

Tunnel vision is a vision defect that usually happens when an eye condition inhibits the function of the rods that help us to see. It then causes the loss of our peripheral vision, though the cones still function normally.

This means that a person who is suffering from tunnel vision cannot see out of the corners of their eyes and can really only see what is directly in front of them, or can only see a direct path in front of them.

An easy way to describe tunnel vision is that the affected person’s vision has narrowed. As the name of the condition suggests, tunnel vision is almost like the affected person is looking down a tunnel, or that their vision has tunnelled.

Tunnel vision affects may also come with night vision issues.

Causes of Tunnel Vision

Now that you understand what tunnel vision is, it is important that you understand some of the things that can cause it.

After all, if you do not know what could be causing your tunnel vision, you cannot treat it– or decide whether or not you need to consult an eye doctor about what you are experiencing. Below, we will go over some of the main causes of tunnel vision and tunnel vision symptoms.


One of the most common causes of tunnel vision is glaucoma. Tunnel vision is actually a symptom of glaucoma. Glaucoma is the name for a particular disorder of the optic nerve.

Essentially, this occurs when the eye does not drain as it should, which then creates pressure in the eye that damages the optic nerve.

Glaucoma is typically a condition that worsens as a person ages– it is not usually seen in young people. There are also two different diagnoses for glaucoma– there is open-angle glaucoma and narrow-angle glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common.

Glaucoma is treatable with eye drops, procedures and/or laser treatment, but the earlier it is diagnosed the better. Once you lose the vision you have lost from glaucoma it can not be regained causing permanent vision loss, so it is best to get treatment in the early stages.

Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis is another condition which lists tunnel vision as one of its symptoms. Like glaucoma, optic neuritis is a condition that affects the optic nerve.

It occurs when the optic nerve is inflamed, and an affected person usually sees their vision worsen over a few days. Some of the other symptoms of optic neuritis are acute and painful blurring of the eye, as well as loss of vision in one eye.

However, there are cases of optic neuritis where the affected person does not loose vision and therefore does not realize that they are experiencing this vision condition.

Retinal Detachment

Tunnel vision can also be a symptom of retinal detachment. Retinal detachment is fairly similar to what you may guess it is, based on the name.

Retinal detachment is when the retina detaches from the back of the eyeball. This can be very serious because it can result in severe loss of vision– this can happen over a matter of hours or days.

Often, retinal detachment does not happen until after there have been several breaks or tears in the retina, so it is a condition that worsens over time. When the retina separates it usually occurs on the peripheral retina first, where they do not have as much of an effect on vision.

Although there’s currently no cure or effective treatment for RP, research is ongoing. Occupational therapy at the beginning phases of RP can be helpful for managing the transition into the more advanced phases of the disease.

Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa is not one particular condition but is instead the name to refer to a group of retinal diseases. What these diseases have in common is that they are characterized by the loss of peripheral vision.

RP diseases are also characterized by difficulty seeing in dimly lit areas. These are typically inherited genetic diseases.

Sometimes, they are present from birth, but more commonly, they are shown by a slow loss of peripheral vision over the years. Tunnel vision is also a common symptom of retinitis pigmentosa visualdisturbances.

Treatments for Tunnel Vision

era Treatment for tunnel vision is based on how advanced the condition. Eye Doctors may start with a prescription medication and then offer options of laser therapy or a combination of laser therapy and medication. There is also eye surgery.


Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when you get tunnel vision?

If a person is suffering from tunnel vision, then they are having trouble seeing objects that are not near the centre of their field of vision. Plainly you are experiencing vision loss of your side vision and are only able to see straight ahead, known as central vision.

This occurs when eye conditions affect the function of the rods in the eye, leading to the loss of peripheral vision. However, the cone still continues to function. One eye condition that tunnel vision could be a symptom of is glaucoma. It can also be a symptom of anxiety.

What does anxiety tunnel vision look like?

Anxiety tunnel vision is the tunnel vision that may occur when you are having anxiety or a panic attack. It can occur when you are feeling as if you cannot look away from anything, which can only heighten the symptoms of your anxiety.

The eyes try to eliminate anything in the field of vision that is not going to solve the issue at hand, which is presented by your anxiety. Anxiety tunnel vision looks a lot like regular tunnel vision– it is the cause that is different.

It can look like seeing stars, halos, shimmers, or seeing things out of the corner of your eye that are not there.

Why is my vision suddenly tunnelling?

If you are suddenly experiencing tunnel vision, this can be very scary. When you have tunnel vision, it can feel as if you are not in control, especially when you start to experience peripheral vision loss.

Of course, you will want to know what is causing this so that you can, hopefully, avoid it and prevent it from happening in the future.

Some of the things that can be triggers for tunnel vision are ocular migraines, alcohol or drug consumption, or anxiety– or similarly, a sudden onslaught of adrenaline.

742 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page