Seeing double could mean trouble

Seeing double could mean trouble

Seeing double can feel like your eyes are playing tricks on you.   Typically, this vision problem is the result of an underlying condition. Identifying and treating the cause can help you recover your eyesight and stop other symptoms from occurring.

What are the symptoms of seeing double?

Seeing double usually occurs when a single object appears as two images overlapping or adjacent to each other either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Often these can lead to other symptoms, such as blurred vision and dizziness. Diplopia is the medical term for double vision and is either known as monocular diplopia or binocular double vision. 

What causes Double vision?

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There are dozens of causes of double vision, ranging from benign to life-threatening. Symptoms are in most cases are temporary, and are caused by problems within parts of the eye such as the cornea or lens. When it’s more of a concern is when it may be a signal for a more serious problem such as a brain aneurysm or stroke, this can only be diagnosed by a proper medical professional.

How to tell if you have monocular diplopia or binocular double vision 

You can figure out the type of diplopia you have with a simple test. While the double vision is occurring, cover one eye. If the double vision disappears while covering either eye you have binocular diplopia. In monocular diplopia, the double vision goes away when the affected or “bad” eye is covered and returns when the unaffected or “good” eye is covered.

Causes of monocular diplopia

Monocular double vision occurs due to a problem with one eye and is less common than binocular double vision. Many people with monocular diplopia report that one of the images will be very clear, while the other will be faded or washed out. If double vision is experienced in one eye it’s usually caused by common eye issues such as astigmatism, dry eye syndrome, cataracts or even macular degeneration. 

Causes of binocular diplopia

Double vision in both eyes is usually associated when both eyes aren’t functioning together properly. Each of the six muscle that surround the eye need to coordinate with each other in unison for the eye to then be able to focus on the same point.  A weak muscle or a weakness in any of their nerve supplies can lead to binocular double vision.

What should you do if you are seeing double?

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Double vision is a symptom of something abnormal going on within your eye, brain, or nervous system. First and foremost, it is not something that should go unchecked or ignored. If you are experiencing double vision, please visit your nearest optometrist as soon as possible for a check-up. It is also recommended not to drive until you have had a medical examination.

A thorough evaluation of double vision will be conducted with a detailed history of the onset of associated symptoms and other vision problems. A careful eye examination will also be completed.

People with double vision often make a full recovery. Some people will recover with minimal treatment depending on the cause. Others may need more care, but still experience a full recovery once the problem has been identified and the correct treatment applied. For symptoms to be treated it is vital that you visit your local optometrist or medical practitioner as soon as possible.

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