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Double Vision – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

What is Double Vision?

From the name itself, double vision happens when a person can see two images of the same object. The medical term for double vision is diplopia. Double vision happens when there is misalignment of the eyes, causing both eyes to send images to the brain. The brain will accept these images seen by both eyes, leading to double vision.


Double Vision Symptoms

The ultimate symptom of double vision is the instance of seeing two images of the same object; however, in some cases, there are also accompanying symptoms, which can be enumerated as follows:

  • Cross-eyed appearance
  • Pain can be felt upon movement of one or both eyes
  • Headache and nausea
  • Eye weakness
  • Drooping eyelids

Double Vision Causes

The causes of double vision vary based on the underlying cause. Here are the common causes of this condition based on the type of the double vision.

Monocular Diplopia

This type of double vision occurs in one eye only, and the duplication of images does not go away even when the person looks in different direction. The causes of monocular diplopia can be enumerated as follows:

  1. Astigmatism – in this condition, there is an abnormal curvature of the front surface of the cornea. In effect, the images are blurred because the eyes cannot maintain a sharp image on the retina.
  2. Keratoconus – this is a degenerative disorder of the cornea of the eye wherein it loses its normal curvature and change to a more conical and thinner shape, causing distortions of images.
  3. Pterygium – this is a benign growth of the conjunctiva, and is thought to have been caused by ultraviolet rays exposure, dust, and low humidity.
  4. Cataracts – this happens when there is clouding in the crystalline lens of the eye, becoming less transparent.
  5. Dislocated lens – Any trauma to the eyes can damage the ligaments that hold the lens in place. Once this happens, it will cause excessive movement and may displace the lens altogether.
  6. Swelling of the eyelids – any growth on this area will compress the front part of the eye and may disrupt one’s vision.
  7. Dry eyes – when the eyes do not produce enough tears, it can also affect the clarity of one’s vision.
  8. Problems with the retina – there are situations that can affect the smoothness of the retina. Once the retina is not that smooth, there can be resultant effect to the vision.

Binocular Diplopia

In this type of diplopia, the double vision occurs in both eyes and this is related to the misalignment of both eyes. Binocular diplopia is commonly associated to any abnormality in the extraocular muscles that control the movement of the eyes.

  1. Strabismus – this is a misalignment of the eyes and is common among children
  2. Nerve damage – if the nerves innervating the extraocular muscles that control eye movements, then these muscles would not be able to perform its desired motions.
  3. Diabetes – this disease is known to have effects in one’s vision
  4. Myasthenia Gravis – this condition is a disorder of the neuromuscular junction and has resultant effects to the to the muscles of the body, leading to abnormal contractions, including the muscles of the eye.
  5. Graves’ disease – associated with hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease causes double vision secondary to swelling of muscles that cause eye motions.

Double Vision Treatment

The best way to treat double vision is to thoroughly identify the underlying cause of the condition. If the cause is muscular, then perhaps it would benefit from surgery. If the condition is being caused by certain diseases such as myasthenia gravis or Graves’ disease, it can be managed through the use of medications and/or surgery. If it is related to diabetes, control the sugar level by administering insulin and prescribing proper medications. There are some cases wherein double vision is irreversible; however, many people were able to survive living in that condition. One can patch the other eye so to minimize the double vision.

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