Blurred peripheral vision can be caused by strokes, eye injuries, toxins, and malignant conditions. It is important to receive treatment for vision changes as they are sometimes symptoms of serious medical conditions. An ophthalmologist can examine a patient with a peripheral vision problem, including blurring, floaters, or total peripheral vision loss, to find out more about what is happening to the patient's eyes. Treatments are available, depending on the cause.
Problems with the eye are a common cause of blurred peripheral vision. This can include diseases of the retina, damage to the optic nerve, and glaucoma. These problems may be apparent on a physical examination, especially as the patient completes a series of eye exercises at the direction of the doctor. Patients should make sure to report associated symptoms like pain, as they can be helpful diagnostic clues for the doctor.
The brain can be another culprit. If there is a problem with the processing or transmission of visual information, a person can have blurred peripheral vision. Intoxication caused by drugs or alcohol, along with exposure to toxins like snake venom, can impair peripheral vision. Tumors, aneurysms, and trauma to the brain may also be involved. With strokes, sometimes changes to the peripheral vision are the first noticeable sign for the patient, especially if the vision problem is isolated to one eye only.
Loss of peripheral vision is known as tunnel vision. It can be a serious visual impairment, as people are less able to navigate the surrounding environment when they cannot see well. Absent or blurred peripheral vision can be particularly dangerous while engaging in activities like driving or operating heavy machinery, where a broad visual field helps people identify threats and avoid injuries and damage. Ignoring a vision problem can make it harder to treat, as the options for management will decrease as it progresses.
If a sudden onset of blurred peripheral vision occurs, patients should seek immediate medical treatment. This can be a sign of injury to the brain, and prompt treatment will stop the injury before it progresses any further. Patients should report any recent history of head injuries, as well as dizziness, confusion, and other symptoms associated with neurological problems. This information can help a doctor narrow down an issue more quickly so treatment can begin as early as possible. With strokes and swelling in the brain, minutes can make a big difference in treatment.