Double vision, or diplopia, is exactly what the name suggests. It’s a condition that causes you to see two images of the same object. The duplicate images may be seen horizontally, vertically or diagonally in relation to one another.
It’s important to understand the basics about diplopia and what double vision may be telling you about your overall health.
Types of Double Vision
There are two types of double vision. Monocular diplopia is double vision that occurs in only one eye. The double vision will not subside when the other eye is covered. Binocular diplopia is double vision that is related to both eyes. The double vision will stop when one of the eyes is covered.
Causes of Monocular Diplopia
Monocular diplopia can be caused by a variety of eye conditions including:
- Astigmatism: An abnormal curvature of the front surface of the cornea.
- Dry Eye: Insufficient tears are produced to lubricate the eye.
- Cataracts: The lens of the eye becomes cloudy and less transparent.
- Swelling of the Eyelid: Swelling in the eyelid may assert pressure on the eye.
- Keratoconus: The cornea of the eye becomes thin and cone-shaped.
- Pterygium: The mucous membrane that lines the whites of the eye and under surface of the eyelids (known as conjunctiva) becomes thick.
- Dislocated Lens: Ligaments that secure the lens in place are damaged or broken causing the lens to wiggle.
Causes of Binocular Diplopia
Typically, any problem affecting the muscles around the eye that control the direction of your vision (known as extraocular muscles) can lead to double vision. Conditions causing double vision may include:
- Diabetes: This disease can affect the nerves that control movement of the extraocular muscles.
- Myasthenia Gravis: A neuromuscular condition which causes muscles to weaken and tire easily.
- Graves’ Disease: This disease causes the thyroid gland to become overactive and produce too many hormones. As a result, swelling may occur in the muscles that control eye movement.
- Strabismus: This condition is commonly referred to as “cross eye” or “wandering eye”. It’s a condition where the eyes deviate or turn when looking at an object.
- Trauma to Eye Muscles: The muscles that control eye movement can be damaged by some sort of trauma to your face such as being hit in the face with an object or a punch.
Visit Your Eye Doctor
Double vision can be a signal for a variety of conditions outlined above and many other health problems not listed here. If you or a member of your family experience double vision, it’s important to see your eye doctor. Usually, the double vision can be treated by correcting or managing its cause.
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