Distorted or Double Vision
Temporarily experiencing distorted or double vision—or seeing two images of a single object at the same time (a condition known as diplopia)—is relatively common and usually related to a non-emergency medical issue. Still, it’s important to promptly seek care for double vision, as this problem can significantly interfere with depth perception and your ability to safely walk and drive. If left untreated, double vision may also lead to:
- Eye pain or discomfort around the eyes
- Droopy eyelids
- A cross-eyed appearance or a “wandering” eye
There are two main types of double vison:
- Binocular diplopia – The most common type, binocular diplopia refers to double vision that is present when both eyes are open at the same time. You likely have binocular diplopia if your double vision persists when closing either eye. Binocular diplopia is a possible symptom of diabetes as well as various brain, nervous system, and thyroid conditions.
- Monocular diplopia – This refers to double vision that only affects one eye. You will probably notice an improvement in your vision when you close or cover your “bad” eye, and a marked worsening of vision when you shield your “good” eye. Monocular diplopia is typically related to other eye conditions such as astigmatism, dry eye, and cataracts.
What Causes Double Vision?
There are several possible causes of double vision, including:
Multiple conditions can affect the eye’s cornea and lead to double vision, including astigmatism, dry eye, scarring, infections, keratoconus (a cone-shaped cornea), and pterygium (an abnormal growth of tissue that may spread to the cornea).
Lens problems like cataracts can cause double vision. A cataract is a cloudy, dense area that develops on the lens of the eye and slowly progresses to impact vision.
Eye Muscle Problems
Having weak muscles around one eye is a known cause of double vision. Several conditions can lead to eye muscle problems and subsequent diplopia, including myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune disorder) and Graves’ disease (a thyroid condition).
Certain nerves transport information from the brain to the eyes. Conditions that impact these nerves—including diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS), and Guillain-Barre syndrome—can cause double vision.
Some conditions that lead to double vision begin in the brain, including migraines, brain tumors, infections, and aneurysms. Double vision is also a possible sign of a stroke.
Temporal arteritis is a medical emergency in which the arteries on the side of the head become inflamed, possibly causing double vision and other symptoms like headaches, tenderness, and jaw pain.
How Is Double Vision Treated?
The first step in treating double vision is to determine what’s causing it. Depending on its underlying cause, diplopia treatment may involve:
- Taking medication to address conditions like diabetes or myasthenia gravis
- Wearing contacts or eyeglasses to improve astigmatism
- Undergoing surgery to correct eye muscle problems, cataracts, or Graves’ disease
- Wearing special eyeglasses, an eye patch, or a contact lens to temporarily block or blur vision in one eye
Consult With an Ophthalmologist About Double Vision Treatment
The Florida Medical Clinic team includes experienced ophthalmologists who provide expert diagnostics and treatment for double vision and other complex eye conditions. To schedule an appointment at one of our centers in New Tampa, Land O’Lakes, Zephyrhills, or North Tampa, request an appointment on our website.
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