Diplopia or double vision
What is Diplopia or double vision?
Diplopia occurs when a person sees two images of a single object. The condition is also known as double vision.
There are two types of diplopia:
- Monocular diplopia: When the double vision affects only one eye.
- Binocular diplopia: When the double vision affects both eyes.
Diplopia or double vision symptoms
While diplopia can happen with no symptoms other than double vision, depending upon the cause of the condition, one might also look out for possible double vision symptoms like:
- Misalignment of one or both eyes.
- Pain around the eyes, like the temples or eyebrows
- Weakness in your eyes or anywhere else
- Droopy eyelids
- Blurred vision
Who is at risk?
Diplopia risk factors include:
- Nerve or muscle damage
- Having an underlying eye problem
- Having an underlying health issue like diabetes, Grave’s disease, etc.
- Having an underlying nervous system disorder
Diplopia or double vision causes
Double vision causes might include a nerve or muscle damage in the eye. Reasons for double vision depends on the type of diplopia.
Monocular diplopia can be caused by the following conditions:
- Severe astigmatism: The irregular shape and curvature of the eye in astigmatism can cause blurred or double vision.
- Keratoconus: This is a degenerative condition of the eye that can affect the cornea and cause blurred vision, double vision or sensitivity to light.
- Dry eye: The eye does not produce enough tears, or it dries out too quickly.
- Cataract: Cataract causes the lens of the eyes to grow cloudy or foggy over time, leading to vision problems.
- Pterygium: A raised, fleshy, non-cancerous growth on the clear tissues that cover the eyelids and eyeballs and can cause double vision when it covers the cornea.
Binocular diplopia causes include:
- Nerve damage: An inflammation or injury to the nerves in the eye.
- Diabetes: The disease can cause nerve damage that can lead to double vision.
- Cranial nerve palsy: The cranial nerves running along the surface of the brain can sometimes become paralyzed leading to vision problems.
- Grave’s disease: Changes in thyroid function can cause this immune system disorder leading to vision problems.
- Myasthenia gravis: This can cause weakness in the muscles, including those that control the eyes.
- Multiple sclerosis: MS is a disease that affects the central nervous system, including the nerves in the eyes.
- Convergence insufficiency: In this condition, the eyes do not work together correctly. The cause is unknown, but it is thought to be due to the muscles that control the eye not lining up correctly.
How is diplopia or double vision diagnosed?
While double vision diagnosis is very straightforward, determining the cause behind it can be challenging for ophthalmologists.
The double vision doctor will take the symptoms and vision experiences into account and perform a brief double vision test to diagnose the type of diplopia. The doctor will further work on finding the cause behind it by:
- Assessing the current state of health: This would include a
- complete history of all the symptoms experienced,
- personal health history of any underlying factors like diabetes, thyroid problems, neurological problems, etc. and
- family health history.
- Physical examination: A complete physical examination can help in the possible cause of the condition. The tests for diplopia includes:
- Blood test
- Vision check
- Eye movements tests
- Toxicity tests
- Blood sugar readings
- Imaging tests, such as a CT scan or MRI
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How is diplopia or double vision treated?
Before going for diplopia treatment, it is important to find out the underlying cause. In many cases, double vision cure can be done by resolving the underlying issue.
The usual double vision treatment includes:
- Corrective lenses: Special lenses or eyeglasses like prisms may be etched on the lenses of the eyeglasses to adjust the vision.
- Eye patch or eye cover: Covering one eye may stop the double vision temporarily.
- Eye exercises: The doctor may guide you with exercises and medicine for weak eye muscles that will help to regain the muscle strength and improve the vision.
- Surgery: Depending on the underlying cause, surgery might be required to correct any physical issue especially problems within the eye like cataract and astigmatism. This will help fix the double vision.
How can diplopia or double vision be prevented?
There is no way to prevent age-related cataracts or some other forms of double vision. Some causes of double vision can be prevented like:
- To help prevent double vision related to head injury, wear proper protective gear.
- People with diabetes can decrease their chance of nerve damage by controlling blood sugar.