What causes peripheral vision loss?

Peripheral vision loss may be caused by a variety of underlying conditions or diseases. Some of these affect only your eyes, such as glaucoma or retinal detachment, while others affect your brain or other parts of the body, such as stroke or brain tumor. Additionally, alcohol and some medications may cause vision changes, including changes in your peripheral vision.

Common causes of peripheral vision loss

Peripheral vision loss may be caused by common events or conditions including:

  • Alcohol intoxication
  • Cataracts (clouding or loss of transparency in the lens of the eye)
  • Migraines

Serious or life-threatening causes of peripheral vision loss

In some cases, peripheral vision loss may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Brain tumor
  • Glaucoma (disorder that damages the optic nerve, often as a result of increased pressure in the eye)
  • Head trauma
  • Injury to the eye
  • Retinal detachment (detachment of the light-sensing layer inside your eye from the blood vessels that provide it oxygen and nutrients)
  • Retinitis pigmentosa (hereditary degeneration of the retina)
  • Stroke
  • Transient ischemic attack (temporary stroke-like symptoms that may be a warning sign of an impending stroke)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of peripheral vision loss

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your peripheral vision loss including:

  • Have you had recent eye surgery?
  • When did you first notice your peripheral vision loss?
  • Is your peripheral vision loss persistent, or does it come and go?
  • Is your peripheral vision loss present in one eye or both eyes?
  • Are you having any other symptoms associated with your peripheral vision loss?
  • Do you have any other known medical conditions?
  • Are you currently taking any medications?

What are the potential complications of peripheral vision loss?

Some of the underlying causes of peripheral vision loss are temporary and do not cause serious complications. However, peripheral vision loss may also be caused by vision-threatening or life-threatening conditions. Contact your health care professional if you experience double vision, even if it is temporary. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Adverse effects of treatment
  • Brain damage
  • Loss of vision and blindness
  • Progression of visual field loss
  • Spread of cancer
  • Unconsciousness and coma


  1. Vision problems. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003029.htm.
  2. Blindness and vision loss. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003040.htm.
  3. Domino FJ (Ed.) Five Minute Clinical Consult. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.

What is peripheral vision loss?

Peripheral vision loss is the loss of your ability to see things to the side or up and down from your central vision (the line of sight directly in front of you). You may lose peripheral vision on one or both sides of your visual field. Peripheral vision loss can also affect your ability to see objects above or below your central vision. The loss of peripheral vision in all directions (that is,... Read more about peripheral vision lossintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with peripheral vision loss?

Peripheral vision loss may accompany other symptoms, which will vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Other eye or visual symptoms that may occur along with peripheral vision loss

Peripheral vision loss may accompany other symptoms affecting the eye or your vision including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Eyes and Vision

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