Diplopia, also known as double vision, effects many people around the world for one reason or another. Double vision can affect one or both eyes and is where someone is looking at one object and it looks to them as if there are two objects. There are many different reasons for double vision, ranging from existing medical conditions to injuries.
Anyone who is suffering from double vision or any drastic change in there vision should visit an eye specialist immediately. There are several different reasons for doubled vision and a doctor will need to evaluate a patient’s condition. Run some tests and have the patient complete some simple tasks, to help diagnose the cause of the double vision.
One of the first steps in diagnosing the cause of diplopia is to determine if it is affecting one or both eyes. Monocular diplopia, double vision in one eye, does not change when the other eye is covered. Nor does it disappear when the patient looks away from the doubled object. Double vision in one eye may be caused from several conditions, including abnormal curvature of the cornea’s front surface, if the cornea tapers to a cone shape, thickening of the thin membrane lining the underside of the eyelid and the whites of the eyes. It could also be caused from cataracts, if the ligament that holds the lens of the eye in place is broken, if the eyelid is enflamed, if the eyes are dry, and if the retina is not completely smooth.
Binocular diplopia, blurred vision caused from misalignment of the eyes, actually disappears when one eye is covered. Double vision in both eyes has different causes than those for monocular diplopia. Any issue with the extraocular muscles around the eyeball can cause double vision in both eyes. Some conditions which affect the extraocular muscles, muscles around the eyeball which control the direction of ones look; include Strabismus, when a child is born with their eyes misaligned, nerve damage, diabetes, myasthenia gravis, Graves’ disease, and trauma to the eye.
A doctor will ask a patient to perform a few steps to determine their cause of double vision. Including following the doctor’s finger as it moves up and down and side to side. The doctor will cover each eye at separate times while the patient focus’ on a particular target. The doctor will be watching to see how the eyes react. If the eyes move when the cover is removed from the eyes then the eyes are not correctly aligned. Another test the doctor may try is to place a prism on the eye while the patient focuses on a particular object and then moves the eye around. The prism helps the doctor to diagnose the route cause, as well as monitor progress or regression over time. The eye doctor will also consider medical history and other symptoms to make their diagnosis. Often times when a patient suffers from double vision in both eyes a doctor will check to make sure they have not suffered trauma to their face.
The duration of double vision depends on its route cause. Cataracts and Pterygium may actually cause double vision to become worse. However, both conditions can be corrected with surgery and 90 percent of cataracts patients who undergo surgery have improved vision. Strabismus can get better over time, and double vision caused from nerve damage may be corrected if the nerve re-grows. Diabetics who suffer from double vision often times can correct the problem by controlling their blood sugar.
For children with strabismus, there prognosis is much better if the double vision is discovered early and treated. Treatment may include wearing glasses, the use of prism vision therapy, or surgery. Those who suffer from a stigmatism, which is causing their doubled vision, can wear contact lenses to correct their problem. If double vision is caused from an existing medical condition, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, or neurological disease, an eye specialist will probably recommend treating the disease.
If someone experiences vision problems, they should see an eye specialist immediately. Often time’s double vision has a rather simple cause and solution. To help identify eye problems early, children should have their first eye exam before they reach six months old, along with a follow up exam at age three. For adults over the age of 40, it is recommended they have eye examinations every couple of years, even if they have not experienced eye problems.