Eye Problems Diplopia

Diplopia is a condition in which a person sees a single object but perceives two images that are vertically, diagonally or horizontally distorted. While diplopia may be the result of crossed eyes, it can also arise from a variety of other factors. Read on to learn more about the symptoms of and treatments for diplopia.

Types of Double Vision

Diplopia can be related to one eye (monocular) or can be related to both eyes (binocular). The difference between monocular and binocular diplopia is that, with binocular diplopia, double vision disappears when one of your eyes is closed. However, if you suffer from monocular diplopia, you will still experience double vision when closing one of your eyes.


Causes of Diplopia

Monocular diplopia can be caused by several different conditions all related to structural problems with the eye. Some of these include:

  • cataracts
  • dislocated lens
  • dry eye, or the inability to produce enough tears
  • keratoconus, a condition in which the cornea
  • becomes thin and more conical shaped.

Binocular diplopia can develop as a symptom of another more serious condition or as the result of damage to the eyes’ structure. Some common causes are:

  • diabetes
  • Grave’s Disease, a condition marked by an overactive thyroid
  • head injuries
  • Strabismus, a childhood condition in which the eyes are not aligned correctly
  • stroke.

Binocular diplopia generally occurs when the muscles that control the eyes are adversely affected.

Temporary Diplopia

Temporary diplopia can be caused by drinking too much alcohol or it can occur as the result of a concussion or head injury. However, while those with temporary diplopia experience double vision in the same way as those who suffer from this condition permanently, the temporary cases resolve themselves as a person sobers up or treats his concussion or head injury.

Diagnosing Diplopia

While having regular eye exams is an important part of your overall health, you may need to have a more frequent eye exam schedule if you are older or suffer from other serious conditions. Your child should have his first eye exam at around six months of age. If your doctor does not find any problems, bring your child back for his next visit at around the age of three.

If you are over 40, visit your eye doctor every other year, even if you do not think that you have any problems.

Keep in mind that your brain does everything it can to prevent you from having double vision because diplopia is so dangerous to your health. This self-preservation urge is so strong that the brain can actually ignore, or suppress, one eye, to prevent you from experiencing double vision.

However, this does not mean that the cause of double vision has gone away. It just means that your brain is not letting you experience double vision. If your brain suppresses signals from one eye for an extended period of time, you can loose vision in one eye temporarily or even permanently. Loss of vision in one eye can result in loss of depth perception.

If you start to experience double vision, it is very important to see your doctor to diagnose and treat the underlying cause of the problem, as diplopia is often a symptom of a serious disease.

Diplopia Treatments

In many cases, diplopia treatments revolve around treating the underlying condition that is causing the case of double vision. For example, optometrists treat double vision related to cataracts by surgically removing the cataracts. Once the cataracts are gone, so too is the trigger of the diplopia.

Alternatively, if diplopia is related to a disorder of the eyes’ muscles, treatment might take several paths or a combination of paths, including eye exercises to strengthen those muscles, surgery or both. The goal of treating this type of double vision is to retrain the eye and the brain so that the patient no longer experiences double vision.