What is Double Vision?
Double vision or diplopia occurs when someone sees two images of something when there should only be one. The extra image may be next to or overlapping the original image. Double vision may occur in one or both eyes at the same time. Double vision in one eye is referred to as monocular diplopia and double vision in both eyes is binocular diplopia.
Double vision is different from blurry vision where an image of something is unclear. Instead, two images are seen at the same time with one often being fainter than the other. In some cases, people may not even realize they have double vision because the brain automatically corrects this problem, but these cases are still problematic for someone’s eye health long-term.
What Can Cause Double Vision?
Double vison may occur frequently for some or come and go for others but that doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for concern. There are several different reasons for double visionwith some more alarming than others.
Some potential double vision causes include abnormalities with your:
- Eye muscles
Double Vision Caused by Cornea Issues
The cornea is the eye’s clear outer layer that helps protect it and focus light. When damaged, it can lead to a variety of vision problems including double vision.
Cornea damage that leads to double vision may be a result of:
- Dry eye
- Infections like shingles or herpes
- Scars or injury to the area
Dry eye care or glasses may be able to easily fix double vision caused by these issues.
Double Vision Caused by Lens Problems
The eye lens is behind the pupil and helps to focus light. A common lens problem, cataracts are the gradual clouding of the lens that often worsens with age. Because cataracts can develop at different rates in your eyes, cataracts may be the cause of double vision in one eye or both.
Double Vision Caused by Muscle Weakness
The eye muscles help control eye movement and keep the eyes properly aligned. When one muscle is weaker than the other or damaged, it can lead to issues including double vision.
Eye muscle problems may be a result of:
- Thyroid eye disease
- Strabismus or squint- misalignment of the eyes
Double Vision from Nerve Problems
Damage to the nerves that connect the brain to the eye muscles may be another reason for double vision.
Some nerve problems that may lead to double vision include:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Myasthenia gravis
- Guillian-Barre syndrome
Double Vision Causes from the Brain
The brain takes images from the eyes and makes sense of them. When someone suffers from brain damage or another abnormality in this area, it can result in problems like double vision. A migraine or a concussion may be a reason for occasional double vision that may not need immediate attention. On the other hand, stokes, brain aneurysms, or tumors are all serious conditions that can cause double vision and need immediate medical attention.
What to Do About Double Vision
While double vision may be a temporary lapse in vision in some instances, in other cases it may be more severe. To account for seeing double, the brain may try to block out one of the images. If this adjustment continues for an extended amount of time, it may eventually lead to permanent damage including poor vision that glasses and contact lenses cannot correct. This phenomenon is known as amblyopia and is harder to treat than traditional vision problems.
Because of this potential for permanent damage, it is important to get an annual eye exam to address issues like double vision. The earlier the diagnosis, the sooner our doctor can come up with a treatment plan.
Depending on the double vision cause, treatment may include:
- Eye exercises or therapy
- Wearing special eyewear
There are several double vision causes, but regardless of the reason, it is important to get help if you start to see double. If you need to get your eye checked or are looking for specific care, contact us today. At Spring House, our Montgomery County optometrists are here for you.