Double Vision (Diplopia)

What to do if you have double vision?

Some of the cause of double vision or diplopia, as described below, can lead to permanent vision loss or, in rare cases, severe  neurologic damage and even death. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent those serious complications. So, if you have recently developed double vision, contact your ophthalmologist today to make an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam.

 

There are a few things that your ophthalmologist will ask about your double vision. It would save you time and makes the diagnosis easier if you prepare for those questions before you see your ophthalmologist:
 

  • The most important question is if your double vision resolves with closing either eye. Look with both eyes open and notice if you have double vision. Then cover your right eye and see only out of your left eye and notice whether you still have double vision or it resolves. Then cover your left eye and see only out of your right eye and notice whether your double vision resolves or not. 
     

  • Notice if your double vision is worse when looking at objects near or far from you.
     

  • Notice if your double vision is worse when looking in any certain direction (up, down, left, or right).
     

  • Notice if your double vision is worse if you tilt your head to right or left.

What are some causes of double vision?

Monocular double vision (when you still see double even when you close one eye) is usually due to less serious conditions including the need for new glasses, dry eyes, or cataract and rarely due to diseases of the retina or the brain.

On the other hand, binocular double vision (when you see double only with both eyes open) is usually due to more serious conditions that include:
 

  • Conditions that affect the nerves associated with eye movement muscles including tumors or enlargement of vessels (aneurysms) pressing on these nerves in the eye socket or the brain, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson Disease, small strokes of these nerves
     

  • Disease of the muscles that move the eyes including thyroid eye disease, myasthenia gravis
     

Vascular aneurysms can rupture and cause massive bleeding inside the brain which can be fatal. Therefore, binocular double vision is considered one of the eye emergencies. If you have recently developed double vision, contact your ophthalmologist today to make an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam.