If you have ever seen a double image, chances are that you blinked a few times and your vision returned to normal. Most people will experience at least one temporary episode of double visions during their lifetime. However, if someone has chronic episodes of double vision, they will need to seek an appointment with a professional to determine the cause of their condition and obtain the appropriate treatment.
The way in which our vision works is fairly simple. Each of our eyes creates its own image of the environment. This occurs when light passes through the eye and then is transformed into a signal that is interpreted by our brain. Our brains combine the representations from each eye and turn them into a single picture.
Double vision, also known as diplopia, is a condition that is characterized by seeing a double image where there should only be a single, clear picture. These two images could appear as overlaid one on top of the other, side by side or a combination of the two. It can affect one eye, in which case it is known as monocular double vision, or both eyes, which is known as binocular.
There is a wide range of different potential causes of double vision and your eye doctor will work with you to discover what is triggering yours. This will also help your professional to recommend the right treatment to alleviate your symptoms.
Squint, also known as strabismus. This condition occurs when the eyes are not properly aligned, causing them to look in slightly different directions. Strabismus is more common in children than adults, but it can return in later life. Strabismus can often be improved by following specific eye exercises that are designed to get your eyes in better alignment and working better together. You may also be recommended to wear an eyepatch for part of the eye which will strengthen your weaker eye.
Astigmatism. This is where the cornea at the front of the eye is shaped more like a football than a soccer ball. If your double vision is believed to be caused by astigmatism, you will initially be recommended to try corrective glasses or contact lenses. In some cases, patients may prefer a more permanent solution, which could see them choosing laser vision correction.
Keratoconus. A condition characterized by the progressive thinning and bulging of the cornea of the eye. Since the cornea is an abnormal shape, patients usually need to wear glasses or specialty contact lenses to correct their vision. In some cases, surgery may be needed to replace the lens of the eye.
Cataracts. This disease, which is where the natural lens of the eye clouds over and limits the patient’s vision, can cause double vision in one eye. Corrective lenses may initially be effective at improving patient vision, but the only permanent solution for cataracts is to undergo lens exchange where the old lens is replaced with an artificial alternative.
Macular degeneration. This condition affects central vision and sometimes results in inflammation which can cause double vision. Eye drops can help to control inflammation, and vision aids may temporarily help to improve the patient’s sight.
Diabetes. Diabetes can affect the blood vessels that supply the retina at the back of the eye but can also affect the nerves that control eye muscle movements. Getting your diabetes under control is essential for improving double vision that occurs for this reason.
Nerve or muscle damage in the eye. Exercises can help to strengthen the muscles around the eye, or surgery may be needed to correct their position. In some cases, patients may be recommended to have Botox injections into the eye muscles to keep them relaxed.
The use of small amounts of prism in corrective lenses has also been found to be extremely effective at helping reduce the effects of double vision. Adding prism to the lenses bends the light before it travels through the eye, redirecting is so that it falls more directly onto the retina. The brain can then fuse the images correctly to produce a single, clear picture. The use of prism is particularly effective when the patient’s double vision is caused by strabismus, neurological issues such as head injuries or binocular vision dysfunction, or nerve-related problems like diabetes or multiple sclerosis. The amount of prism you will need will vary depending on your individual needs and may need to be adjusted incrementally to find the greatest improvement in your vision.
If you would like to know more about treating double vision or to schedule an appointment with our team of experts, please contact our vision center in Plano, TX.