Dangers of tunnel vision

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Dangers of tunnel vision


Extreme gravity can cause a fighter or stunt pilot to experience tunnel vision, where central vision is retained and peripheral vision is lost. It is an optical illusion ― when traveling at high speeds through a dark tunnel, the exit of the tunnel appears bright and round while the periphery grows dark. It is similar to looking through a telescope; the world is reduced to the boundaries of the cylindrical circle. Judgment is bound to suffer as anything outside of the circle cannot be recognized.
There are many medical explanations for the occurrence of tunnel vision. A person’s vision can be curtailed because of injuries or staining of the cornea through eye diseases. Cerebral hemorrhaging or oxygen toxicity of the central nervous system can cause tunnel vision, as well. There are also reports that altitude sickness, hypoxia and migraine headaches can induce tunnel vision.
Tunnel vision is also commonly experienced when drinking excessively. Eye muscles become lax and focusing becomes difficult. Vision narrows as objects become blurry and the drinker experiences double vision.
The danger of accidents increases with the onset of tunnel vision. One can suffer a fatal accident if experiencing tunnel vision while piloting a plane, driving a car, working heavy machinery or crossing the street.
Psychological tunnel vision also exists; preoccupation with a single problem or cause prevents objective and comprehensive decisions. A detective misses important clues investigating a crime when caught up in preconceived notions. The detective seeks evidence that coincides with conclusions he or she has already made and unconsciously disregards everything else. Everybody is inclined to do this to some degree, but catastrophic results occur when symptoms are extreme.
If considered in a good light, the person is well focused and tenacious; however, if going down the wrong path, the person is considered stubborn and self-serving.
During a candid lecture he gave to supporters who were a part of the participatory government evaluation forum, President Roh Moo-hyun exhibited the epitome of someone suffering from tunnel vision. Placing himself within a self-made narrow vision of the world, he chooses not to look at anything that falls outside. In his tunnel vision, he alone is right and everybody else is wrong. He is not concerned with outside criticism, and he makes decisions on his own, showing no flexibility at all.
A driver suffering from tunnel vision is dangerous because the probability of having an accident increases astronomically.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Kim Jong-soo [jongskim@joongang.co.kr]
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