If you see two images at the same time, when you are just looking at one, you can get confused as to the reason why this might be happening. When this happens, you may have a vision problem known as a double vision or diplopia.
It is worth noting that double vision is a different condition from a blurred vision because in the latter, you see one image, which is not as clear. For double vision, you will see two of what you might be looking at.
What Causes Double Vision?
According to eye practitioners, there are two known causes of double vision. The underlying cause is a problem with the muscles that control your eyes, or the nerves that stimulate your eye muscles.
This occurs when light from an object in your line of view is split into two images, owing to a defect in your optical system.
Patients with eye cataracts, uncorrected astigmatism or keratoconus may experience this more often.
Also known as a ‘squint’, this is a medical condition in which your eyes lose their ability to focus at the object you are trying to see. In normal vision, your eyes tend to look at the same object simultaneously. Your brain then fuses what you see into a single picture.
However, with double vision, your eyes do not point at the same object. Each eye sees a different image, which makes it difficult for the brain to fuse the two into one picture. Your eyes may have trouble focusing on the same object probably because you may have a defect in your eye muscles, which are in charge of controlling your eye movement.
Optometrists suggest that this is a more common cause of double vision than the refractive defect.
What Are The Implications?
If you have experienced double vision, you know that it can be tremendously upsetting. In a bid to alleviate the discomfort, your brain may start suppressing or leaving out one of the images.
This suppression can lead to impaired vision, or an undeveloped visual system, if left undetected and untreated for a long time, especially in young children. The suppressed eye fails to focus on objects, even when a patient is wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses, a condition known as amblyopia.
This condition is as a result of a defect in how your eye and brain interprets images. Thus, it becomes very hard to treat.
How Is It Diagnosed And Treated?
Your optometrist may recommend two treatments; surgical straightening or eye exercises, to treat your double vision. In some cases, especially for strabismus, both treatments are used.
With eye therapy, the exercises should be able to re-align your squinting eye as much as possible, without requiring surgery. Additionally, therapy is vital in re-stimulating your visual pathway to the brain, which may not be working as desired.
If your double vision is caused by the presence of cataracts in your eyes, we recommend undergoing surgical treatment to remove the cataracts and restore your vision.