What is Double Vision ?

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Do you have a perfect vision or do you also struggle with two images of a single object ? 

Few minutes of dizziness leaves us drained as neither can we see steady nor can we think straight with it. Did it ever occur to you what it is like, staying in a confused state and seeing two images of a single object. Well, only a patient of diplopia can relate to it.

The eye condition where  overlapped images of a single object hinders the normal vision is known as diplopia or double vision. The two images either appear side by side or on top of eachother.

This article will discuss the causes, types, symptoms and treatments of double vision.

Common reasons behind Diplopia / Double vision 

Temporary episodes of double vision with ghost images can occur for many casual reasons such as drinking patterns or over fatigued routine.

Providentially, these go away and are not worrisome at all. However, if double vision keeps coming back or stays for longer periods of time, causes can include;

Thyroid Dysfunction 

Thyroid malfunction can be responsible for changes in the external eye muscles leading to diplopia. The thyroid gland produces a hormone ‘thyroxine’, improper production of which results in thyroid imbalance.

Brain Injury

Brain tumors, if formed, are often located behind the eyes, restricting the eye movement or affecting the optic nerve, which could be another reason for double vision. 

Moreover, any physical damage to head or eye sockets can interfere with the voluntary and involuntary movements of eyes being a possible cause of double vision.

Injuries that affect the nervous system usually damage the eyes as a consequence.

Change in the shape of Cornea

A normal cornea has a dome shape like a ball but if the cornea becomes cone shaped, the vision becomes double.

This condition is biologically known as ‘keratoconus’. It usually occurs by a decrease in protective antioxidants in the cornea. And travels with the genes as well.

A damaged cornea is one of the main causes of diplopia.

Cataracts

Clouding of lens in the eyes can show double vision. Cataracts comes with blurry and double vision.

Dry Eye

When the eyes do not produce enough tears and dry out quickly, the movement of eyeballs becomes inconvenient.

Diabetes

Diabetes bring our eyes into a vulnerable state. A person with diabetes has less blood supply to the retina and ultimately affects the nerves that ensure smooth eye movement. Insufficient amount of blood sugar levels directly affect our eye functioning. 

The first consequence of diabetes is usually low or affected vision.

Retinal Insufficiences

For instance, macular degeneration, that slowly kills the central vision and eventually the vision appears blur and dual.

Types of Double Vision 

Binocular Double Vision

Binocular Double vision is a condition characterised by eyes not pointing in the same direction or unaligned. It isn’t very noticeable unless the person moves his/her eyes to an extreme in a certain direction.

The misalignment is usually occurs because of a disorder affecting the cranial nerves,  hindering the eye movement.

‘Strabismus’ and ‘squint’ and the most common misalignments resulting in double vision.  These are commonly observed among children. However, strabismus is less capable of causing double vision.

Monocular Double Vision

Monocular Double vision is the result of some refractive error or astigmatism. It occurs  due to imperfect focusing of light rays on the retina.

Monocular double vision forms with clouding of lens and sensitivity to light rays. It is formed only in one eye and is relatively less common than binocular double vision.

It’s common causes such as cataracts, keratoconus, dry eyes and retinal abnormalities have already been discussed above.

Symptoms

Miscoordination of one or both eyes. The eyes do not point in the same direction when moved to an extreme. 

  • Consistent Headache 
  • Pain sensation on moving the eyes
  • Nausea 
  • Droopy eyelids 
  •  Slight pain around the eye sockets

Diagnosis and Treatment

The diagnosis of double vision might need multiple methods such as blood test, physical exam, imaging test, or MRI.

Questions you should ask yourself

The diagnosis can be made successful and quick  if you know the answer to a few questions such as;

  • Do you see double from both eyes ?  
  • Did you get your head hurt earlier ?
  • When did you start noticing double images in your vision ? 
  • Are both images clear but not in line ? 
  • Does tilting your head help forming a clear image ?

Treating double vision greatly depends upon identifying its root cause.

Binocular vision is concerned with the eye alignment only so it uses relatively simple techniques like eyeglasses, eye exercises, opaque contact lenses or irisvision for artificially advanced vision. Doctors might suggest minor surgeries to restore the eye muscle activity.

Treatments for Monocular Double Vision 

The treatment of monocular double vision also depends on the cause.

Altered Cornea; It refers to the double vision occurring because of  abnormally curved cornea. This can be fixed with the use of  corrective glasses or contact lenses. Alternatively, the cornea can be reshaped through a laser surgery.

Clouded lens ; This can only be treated by a surgical procedure where the clouded lens is cleared up using laser technique. However, the consequences could include pain, infection or continued double vision.

Dry eye ; Additional eye drops are prescribed by the doctor to avoid the symptoms of double vision occurring because of dry eye.

Imbalance of sugar blood level ; If the cause behind double vision is diabetes, it can be cured by maintaining the appropriate sugar levels and consuming the right amount of insulin. Diplopia will be cured as soon as the blood sugar levels are managed.

Approximately 850,000 visits to eye doctors and emergency departments are made in U.S every year to seek help for double vision. Identifying  the frequency of diplopia occurring in the population , can help in providing patients with the best health outcomes.

A regular eye-exam can save you from getting into  long term complications. So, make sure you don’t miss out on your scheduled check up with an eye doctor and make no delay  seeking professional help as soon as the eye disease symptoms start showing up.

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