As we continue our “Vision is More than 20/20” campaign, we want to shed light on yet another vision impairment that we treat in our office: double vision. Double vision, also known as “seeing double” or the medical term diplopia, is the perception of two images of a single object. This occurs when two non-matching images are sent to the part of the brain that processes visual input. Over time, the brain eventually begins to compensate for this misinformation by suppressing one signal so that only a single image is perceived.
There can be many different causes for double vision, ranging from life-threatening to benign. Consequently, when diagnosing double vision and creating a treatment plan, it is critical for a medical professional to determine the specific cause in order to develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Double Vision Fast Facts
You can probably understand that double vision can affect reading ability, balance, and movement, but you might not have heard much more about double vision. Check out these fast facts about double vision:
- Double vision can affect one eye only or both eyes. Double vision experienced in one eye is referred to as monocular double vision and double vision experienced in both eyes is referred to as binocular double vision.
- Monocular double vision is less common than binocular double vision. Monocular double vision is often the result of one of the following conditions: astigmatism, dry eye, keratoconus, cataracts, or retinal abnormalities such as macular degeneration.
- Double vision can be a side effect of an underlying condition. Some examples include thyroid dysfunction, stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), aneurysm, convergence insufficiency, diabetes, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, and brain tumors or cancers. Additionally, injuries such as those that may cause a black eye or head injury can cause double vision.
- Childhood vision habits or issues such as a squint or eye turn can sometimes recur and cause double vision. A common cause of binocular double vision is strabismus, which occurs when the eyes are not properly aligned.
- It is possible to experience temporary double vision. Alcohol, recreational drugs, and some medications for epilepsy can cause this to happen. Additionally, head injuries and eye strain can sometimes cause temporary double vision, but single vision should be restored fairly quickly. If you experience prolonged double vision under these circumstances, contact your doctor immediately.
While these fast facts can sound a little daunting, you can take comfort in knowing that we are well prepared to treat patients experiencing double vision. Treatments can include vision exercises, corrective lenses, and when necessary, surgery.
Most courses of treatment will be prescribed based upon the cause and type of double vision being experienced. While most cases of binocular double vision can be treated with non-surgical options, some cases of monocular double vision such as that caused by astigmatism or cataracts might need to be treated with laser surgery. We will do everything we can to achieve success with more conservative treatment options before recommending surgery.
If you or a loved one is experiencing prolonged double vision in one or both eyes, we hope that you will consider coming in for an examination so that we can help you find relief and help you see clearly again. For more information on double vision or to schedule an appointment, please don’t hesitate to call us today at The Optometry Center for Vision Therapy.