Expanding Your Field Of View: Causes + Solutions For Loss Of Peripheral Vision

Apr 08, 2024
 – Besser Eye Care Team
  • Eye Health

Learn more about the loss of peripheral vision, and what patients can do to minimize its effects.

There are many components to vision. A healthy patient's eyes can see what is in front of them and objects from the corner of their eye. A person’s ability to see objects outside the center of their vision is called peripheral vision.

Various ocular conditions can cause loss of peripheral vision in patients. This loss of peripheral vision can have potentially serious consequences for patients' vision and overall health. This makes it essential that patients understand basic information about the causes and treatments for peripheral vision loss.

What is peripheral vision?

Peripheral vision (or side vision) is the part of the eye that directs objects outside of the eye's central field. When someone says they have “seen something out of the corner of their eye” they are referring to viewing an object in their peripheral vision.

Anatomically speaking, the rods in the retina are largely responsible for peripheral vision. These rods are more sensitive to low light levels and motion. In contrast, central vision primarily consists of cones located in the macula of the eye.

What is loss of peripheral vision?

The loss of peripheral vision refers to a patient’s inability to see objects outside of their central vision. It may also be referred to as “tunnel vision.” Patients are typically not able to see objects to their side without moving their head.

As with most eye conditions, the loss of peripheral vision is more common as patients get older. However, the condition can happen at any age.

Peripheral vision loss can be significantly disruptive to the lives of patients of all ages. We rely on our peripheral vision to see obstacles outside of our central vision. Losing this side vision can make navigating the space around them more difficult for patients.

How quickly does peripheral vision loss occur?

The loss of peripheral vision can be sudden or gradual. It is easier to recognize peripheral vision loss when it is sudden. Patients may notice a rapid change in their side vision. If this is the case, they should immediately contact their eye doctor.

In gradual cases, it may be more difficult for patients to notice symptoms. This can cause problems, as symptoms get worse the longer they go untreated. The best way for patient’s to monitor the health of their peripheral vision is through scheduling regular eye exams.

Symptoms of peripheral vision loss

Symptoms associated with the loss of peripheral vision will vary from patient to patient. Some common symptoms are:

  • Blurry vision

  • Difficulty seeing at night

  • Bumping into objects

  • Blindspots in vision

  • More frequently falling or stumbling

  • Difficulty navigating crowded spaces

What causes the loss of peripheral vision?

In most cases, peripheral vision loss is a side effect of a larger medical condition. Some eye conditions that can cause the loss of peripheral vision are:


Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease that targets the optic nerve, usually associated with high pressure inside the eye. Without treatment, glaucoma can eventually lead to the loss of peripheral vision.

People discussing peripheral vision loss


Strokes occur when blood flow to the brain becomes blocked. Strokes are linked to the eyes because blood vessels in the retina can contain blockage and clots.

This can cause sudden blind spots, the loss of peripheral vision, or give patients a sensation of curtains closing across their eyes.

Retinitis pigmentosa

A rare condition which causes cells in the retina to break down. This includes the rods and cones responsible for central and peripheral vision. There is no cure for this condition, but the side effects can be minimized with early detection.

Retinal tears + detachment

A torn retina occurs when the retina or thin tissue at the back of the eye begins to tear away from its normal position. Retinal tears can lead to a retinal detachment, where the retina pulls away from its supportive tissue. Both retinal tears and detachment can cause the loss of peripheral vision.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the retina’s blood vessels swell, leak, or close off, which can cause abnormal new blood vessels to develop on the retina. This damage to the retina can cause a variety of side effects such as peripheral vision loss.


Migraines are severe headaches that can cause throbbing, pulsing, and intense pain. Visually disruptive migraines, also called retinal migraines, can lead to sudden blurry vision and changes to peripheral vision.

Related: Causes Of Blurry Vision In One Eye

Peripheral vision loss associated with migraines is often temporary. Whereas the loss of peripheral vision associated with more serious health conditions may be permanent when left untreated.

Optic Neuritis

Refers to the inflammation of the optic nerve which can cause the loss of peripheral vision.

Tests for peripheral vision

If patients notice a decline in peripheral vision, or have received a diagnosis for a condition that causes the loss of peripheral vision, they should contact their eye doctor. It is crucial to get an expert opinion as soon as possible as peripheral vision loss gets worse the longer it goes untreated.

To test the overall health of a patient’s vision, the doctor will typically begin with a comprehensive eye exam. If they detect peripheral vision loss they may conduct one of the following vision tests:

A confrontation visual field test: The doctor moves their hand by the side of a patient's eyes, and asks how many fingers they are holding up.

An automated perimeter test: Uses a computer program to test a patient’s visual field.

Goldmann field exam: The patient will look at a screen and determine when they can see an object being moved into their peripheral vision

These tests will measure the severity of the peripheral vision loss and help determine the course of treatment.

Can you regain peripheral vision?

The ability to improve peripheral vision will depend on the underlying cause of the vision loss. For instance, in cases of glaucoma, treatment can prevent further vision loss but it cannot restore vision which has already been lost.

For conditions like stroke and optic neuritis, certain treatment options can improve some of lost peripheral vision. However, even in these scenarios it is unlikely the patient will fully restore the loss of their peripheral vision.

In any scenario a patient’s best course of action is to seek swift treatment to prevent any further vision loss.

How to compensate for peripheral vision loss

While in most cases it may not be possible to fully restore lost peripheral vision, there are options for patients to try to improve or compensate for the loss of their peripheral vision.

For instance, low vision aids can help patients live a relatively normal life. Aids like prism eyeglasses can redirect images towards the center of a patient’s visual field. While certain specialty lenses may shrink image sizes to fit more information into their field of view.

Patients can also compensate for the loss of peripheral vision by adjusting their living space to prevent falls and by adding extra light. Additionally, lifestyle changes that support physical and mental health like regular exercise can help patients better cope.

Related: 4 Great Tips To Protect Your Eyes


If you would like to learn more about peripheral vision loss or receive a comprehensive eye exam, please contact us to book an appointment with Eduardo Besser, MD. Our offices are located in Culver City, Los Angeles County.

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