Also known as diplopia, double vision is a vision issue that causes a person to see two images where there should only be one. Often used for comedic effect in cartoons, double vision is actually a very serious condition that requires specific treatment.
What is Diplopia, and Why Does it Happen?
Double vision has one simple symptom: the tendency to see two images of one single object, either constantly or occasionally. It can impact different patients in various ways. Some double vision affects just one eye, which is known as monocular diplopia, while some double vision exists in both eyes. Monocular diplopia might form because of an astigmatism, dislocated lens, swelling in the eyelid, dry eye, or retinal problems. Binocular diplopia, on the other hand, occurs in both eyes due to misalignment and stops if one eye is covered up. A myriad of problems can cause binocular diplopia, particularly issues that affect one or more of the muscles around the eyeball that control the direction of the eye’s gaze. These include strabismus, damage to nerves, and even diabetes. Other major health conditions like head injury, brain tumor, multiple sclerosis, and stroke have also been known to cause diplopia.
Testing and Treatment
Since double vision has so many potential causes and factors involved, an eye doctor will need to complete different tests to narrow down the exact nature of the diplopia. This evaluation typically involves vision assessment for the positioning of the eyes and general functionality. Some patients need a CT or MRI scan as well to gather further information.
Once all testing is done, double vision can be treated in the most efficient way possible. Some patients can resolve double vision with glasses or contact lenses, while others need to complete eye exercises to strengthen weak muscles. It all depends on the problem causing the double vision! Many older patients need surgery for cataracts or severe astigmatism in order to achieve clear vision.