Vision Therapy for Double Vision
Hundreds of thousands of people visit the emergency room each year to address double vision problems. Double vision, also known as diplopia, occurs when a person sees two images of a single object instead of one, either on top of each other, side by side, or both.
There are two kinds of double vision: binocular and monocular diplopia. Binocular diplopia refers to double vision in both eyes, while monocular diplopia refers to double vision in only one eye. Both can affect a person’s balance, movement, and reading ability.
If you suspect yourself or a loved one of having a double vision problem, visit a certified vision therapist or developmental optometrist, especially if double images appear in both eyes—this can signal the onset of a major disorder requiring specialized treatment.
Double Vision Causes
The causes of and treatments for double vision vary between binocular and monocular diplopia, so it’s important to determine which kind you have before pursuing a solution.
The Causes of Binocular Diplopia
Problems with the extraocular muscles, the muscles around the eyes that control the direction of a person’s gaze, can cause binocular diplopia. This form of double vision may result from the following vision problems, diseases, and forms of trauma:
- Strabismus: Common in children younger than age six, strabismus occurs when the affected eye muscles are either too weak or too strong and overactive to align the eyes properly.
- Convergence Insufficiency: This coordination problem happens when the extraocular muscles are unable to properly line up the eyes, sometimes causing double vision.
- Extraocular Muscle Nerve Damage: Infection, multiple sclerosis, stroke, head trauma, and brain tumors can cause brain damage that injures the nerves controlling the extraocular muscles, often resulting in double vision in both eyes.
- Diabetes: This disease can also affect the nerves responsible for controlling eye movement.
- Myasthenia Gravis: This neuromuscular illness causes the immune system to interfere with the transmission of signals from the nerves to the muscles (including the extraocular muscles), leading them to contract and tire. Double vision may occur.
- Graves’ Disease: A common cause of hyperthyroidism, this disease sometimes thickens the muscles that move the eye, causing double vision.
Because diplopia is linked to more serious issues like head trauma or brain tumors and swelling, you should seek immediate medical attention if your double vision is long-lasting or recurring. The earlier a doctor discovers problems with the brain, the more effective treatment will be.
The Causes of Monocular Diplopia
Monocular diplopia, the less common form, describes a single eye that produces double images. The following conditions that affect the cornea, lens, and retina can lead to monocular double vision:
- Astigmatism: An abnormally shaped cornea (similar to the shape of a football).
- Keratoconus: This eye condition causes the cornea to become thin and cone-shaped.
- Cataracts: Eye trauma, long-term diabetes, smoking, steroid medications, and radiation treatments can cause cataracts to cloud the eye’s lens, sometimes leading to double vision.
- Retinal Problems: If the retina’s surface isn’t completely smooth, double vision can occur.
Short-Term Double Vision
If you consume alcohol or take benzodiazepines, opioids, or other medications for seizures and epilepsy, you may experience sudden double vision that goes away quickly. Sudden double vision can also occur if you’re tired, have strained eyes, or have recently suffered a concussion. See a doctor as soon as possible if your double vision won’t go away.
Treating Double Vision
Several diplopia treatments are available for those who see the world in twos. They vary depending on the kind of double vision a person experiences.
To treat monocular diplopia, doctors may perform surgery to fix astigmatisms and cataracts or prescribe eye drops to relieve dry eyes. To treat binocular diplopia, doctors can perform surgery on the eye muscles to correct their positioning or inject Botox into the eye muscles to help them relax. Vision therapists may prescribe special eyeglasses, opaque contact lenses, or eye patches and conduct eye exercises with the patient to address underlying vision problems.
Diagnosing Double Vision
When diagnosing diplopia, your doctor will ask you to cover one eye and then the other to determine whether you have the binocular or monocular form. A vision therapist will also evaluate you for other possible eye problems and conditions that may be causing your vision issues.
Our certified vision therapists have extensive experience with diagnosing children and can work with your child to determine whether or not they have diplopia, even if the child has trouble expressing what they see. We’ll be able to observe warning signs like squinting or narrowing their eyes, covering one eye with their hand, turning their head in an unusual way, or looking at objects from side to side instead of facing forward.
When you work with one of our certified vision therapists, you’ll uncover the root cause of your vision problem and regain your visual strength. Schedule a complimentary consultation with us today to start seeing more clearly and navigating life more confidently.