Home  |  Blog  |  Temporary Loss of Peripheral Vision: Causes, Treatment, Prevention

If you’re like most people, losing your sight probably frightens you. A 2016 nationwide survey by John Hopkins University found that Americans across all age and ethnic population groups believe that the worst health outcome would be losing their vision.

Not surprisingly, most respondents also supported prevention and healthcare for eyes, which is practical since having a qualified eye doctor in your corner can catch issues early and help protect you against temporary and permanent vision loss.

The focus of this article is peripheral vision, also known as side vision, which gives us the ability to see to the sides, above and below our central point of focus. This article will provide information on the causes of temporary peripheral vision loss, how to help prevent it and its treatment options.

What does the temporary loss of peripheral vision feel like?

Imagine being in a cabin on a cruise ship. You’re standing a few feet from a porthole. With normal vision, you’ll see the porthole, the sky and ocean outside, which is in your central vision. You’ll also see portions of the off-white walls and ceiling, end table and lamp just right of the porthole and more because you have normal peripheral vision.

If you lose your peripheral vision, the edges of the room you’re standing in may blur and fade from your side vision, and if peripheral vision is completely gone, you only see the porthole and what’s outside.  

What causes tunnel vision?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says peripheral vision loss (also called tunnel vision) can be caused by the following conditions:

Diabetic Retinopathy

High blood sugar can damage the small blood vessels in the retina, which is the area of the eye that senses light. As the damage progresses, changes to vision, including peripheral vision loss, could be evident.


This condition damages the optic nerve that communicates to the brain due to a build-up of pressure in the eye. The key to successful management of this disease is early diagnosis and treatment. When the nerve is damaged it can cause peripheral vision loss, and if left untreated, it can cause complete vision loss over time.

Retinitis Pigmentosa

This genetic condition damages the retina and usually impacts teenagers and young adults but can affect people at any age. Night blindness is usually the first symptom, but it may progress to an inability to distinguish colors, then to peripheral vision loss.  

What causes temporary peripheral vision loss?

There can be a wide variety of causes, from health conditions and emotional stress, to retinal pressure. Here are a few known causes, preventive actions and treatments for temporary loss of peripheral vision.

Ocular migraine

If you are a migraine sufferer, you may have experienced a migraine that was severe enough to cause peripheral loss of vision in one eye, either with or following a migraine headache.

According to WebMD, the causes of an ocular migraine aren’t known, but some experts theorize they’re caused by:

  • Spasms in the blood vessels of the retina
  • Changes to the nerve cells that spread across the retina

Ocular migraines usually go away on their own within 60 minutes, so they are not treated – and there’s no known preventive treatment for them.

Vasovagal syncope syndrome

A primary symptom of vasovagal syncope, a syndrome characterized by a drop in blood pressure that leads to fainting, is temporary peripheral vision loss. Other symptoms include pale skin, dizziness and blurred vision.

The syndrome is caused by a trigger, such as the sight of blood, that causes your heart rate and blood pressure to drop and lead to symptoms such as peripheral vision loss and fainting. If you feel faint or lose your peripheral vision, the Mayo Clinic suggests lying down and putting your feet in the air to keep blood circulating.

While avoiding whatever triggers the event may help in prevention, if you experience fainting or loss of vision, talk to a physician immediately.

Extreme panic or stress

Although the feeling of emotional stress itself isn’t the cause of loss of peripheral vision, changes such as a temporary decrease in blood pressure during an extremely emotional time can lead to dimming or loss of vision temporarily, according to the AAO.

In these cases, vision loss usually returns to normal and doesn’t require treatment. However, any type of vision loss can indicate something serious. Contact an eye doctor to get an evaluation to ensure there’s nothing more serious to be concerned with.

If you’re looking for a good eye doctor to help you maintain eye health and diagnose changes to your vision, request an online appointment with Southwestern Eye Center today.