Double vision, also called diplopia, is a common condition in which the patients see two images instead of one. These double images can be side by side or one above the other. It may not sound serious, but chronic double vision can have a very real impact on a person’s quality of life. As the brain and eyes try to compensate for the blurriness of double vision, patients can experience a range of symptoms including:
Pain around the eyes, including the temples and eyebrows
A cross-eyes appearance
Many of these symptoms can make usual day to day activities more difficult than they need to be.
One of the most common causes of chronic double vision is a condition called strabismus. Strabismus occurs when both eyes fail to look at the same place at the same time. It is most often seen in children, but it can affect adults too. The underlying cause of strabismus usually relates to poor control over some of the six muscles that control eye movement. For the eyes to move properly, all six muscles must work in perfect synchronisation. Since the brain controls these muscles, problems with their use is often the result of a neurological issue such as a head injury, brain tumour or stroke. Damage to the muscles can also occur during some types of eye surgery.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of double vision, your ophthalmologist will recommend carrying out a neuro-ophthalmic consultation which will involve numerous different elements. For example, assessing your eye movements and checking the structures of your eye to determine the cause of your double vision. Once this has been established, they will discuss your options for the management or treatment of your condition.
If you have been diagnosed with double vision, you may be recommended to try prism eyeglasses. Prisms are wedge-shaped lenses that can bend light rays. Experts have discovered that prisms placed onto glasses lenses or incorporated permanently into eyeglass prescriptions can bend the light in such a way that the two images that you currently see are merged into one, clear image. Wearing prism lenses can eliminate the need for a surgical solution to your double vision, but they can only correct some types of double vision. Your ophthalmologist will be able to advise you if you are a suitable candidate for this treatment.
If using prism lenses does not provide enough relief from double vision, you may be recommended to consider surgery - a procedure known as adult strabismus surgery. Adult strabismus surgery is very effective, with around 80% of patients achieving satisfactory improvement in the alignment of their eyes with just one procedure.
The surgery itself involves your eye surgeon loosening, tightening or otherwise adjusting certain eye muscles so that the eyes line up and can work together properly. Following surgery, patients may also be given eye exercises to complete at home which will help to strengthen the muscles and maximize the positive effects of the surgery. As you might expect, strabismus surgery is carried out using local anaesthetic. It is very low risk and patients can usually resume their usual activities within a few days of their surgery.
For more information about double vision and the treatments that are available, or to schedule your neuro-ophthalmic consultation with our expert eyecare team, please do not hesitate to give us a call at (904) 601-1300.