Healthy Living

What Is Double Vision?

What is Double Vision?

Key Takeaways

  • Seeing two images of the same object is known as diplopia or, more commonly, double vision.
  • There are three broad categories of diplopia.
  • Diagnosis of the underlying problem is the most important part of treating double vision.

What is Double Vision?

Seeing two images of the same object displaced horizontally or vertically is known as double vision or diplopia. While most of the cases of double vision are not serious, some need to be treated quickly. There are three categories of diplopia:

  • Binocular double vision – Two eyes do not work together properly and the person may be able to see clearly if one of the eyes is covered.
  • Monocular double vision – In this case only one of the eyes is effected, and when it is covered the problem disappears.
  • Physiological double vision – The background objects in vision often appears double in this kind of double vision.

There are several causes of double vision. Some of these include:

  • Problems with the cornea cause light ways to be deflected, which may cause double vision. The corneal surface may develop abnormalities because of infections, corneal scars and dryness.
  • Cataracts. If the lens is affected in both the eyes, it may lead to binocular double vision.
  • Weak eye muscles that do not move smoothly. Eye muscles can be affected by autoimmune conditions like myasthenia gravis.
  • Damage to the nerves controlling vision. Double vision is a common symptom of conditions like multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Diabetes may also affect the nerves that control vision leading to diplopia.
  • General problems affecting brain like stroke, aneurysm, tumors, and migraine headaches affect visual processing and can cause double vision.

Double vision can occur alone, without any other symptoms present. However, some of the other symptoms that are often seen with diplopia include pain around the eyes, droopy eyelids, nausea, and crossed-eyes.

The first and most important step in the treatment of double vision is diagnosis of the underlying cause. Treating the underlying cause helps to improve the condition. Surgery is recommended if the condition is caused by affected muscles or by Graves’ disease. Medications are used to treat myasthenia gravis that may lead to diplopia. If double vision is caused by diabetes, blood sugar levels have to be regulated to improve the condition. Special prism glasses are also used minimize the effect.