Double Vision Treatment in Des Plaines, IL
Double vision, also called diplopia or ghost images, is a relatively common condition in which you see two versions of one sight picture. Despite the prevalence of double vision, it’s important to understand the possible dangers behind this seemingly innocuous condition.
Monocular and Binocular Diplopia
There are two types of double vision, monocular and binocular. Monocular involves one eye or both eyes. With monocular double vision, as a test, if you were to close one eye (either one) the problem still persists. Binocular is the opposite, by closing one eye the problem of double vision is corrected. Binocular double vision is typically caused by the misalignment of the eyes and is generally considered much more serious, even warranting immediate medical attention.
So, if you’re experiencing double vision, close each eye, if the problem is not corrected with either eye closed make an appointment to see an eye doctor. If however, closing either eye solves the issue, seek emergency medical attention immediately.
What Causes Double Vision?
Diplopia can be the result of a wide variety of conditions, many of which serious. Temporary double vision can be caused by excess alcohol or sleep deprivation. However, long-term, sudden or reoccurring double vision may be the result of:
- Brain Aneurysm: Un-ruptured aneurysms can increase intracranial pressure, as well as pressure on nerves of the eye. A ruptured aneurysm presents with a subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding) which can place even greater amounts of pressure and exacerbate symptoms even further.
- Stroke: Strokes result in decreased blood flow, in this case to the optic nerves. The severity of the stroke (infarcted or ischemic; brain tissue death or tissue injury respectively) can determine the severity of the double vision. If the stroke was an infarction, there is a greater chance the double vision may be permanent (at least until the brain compensates with suppression—more on that under strabismus).
- Head trauma: Damage to the bones composing the ocular orbit (opening for the eye), may place pressure on the muscles and tendons responsible for controlling eye movement and alignment. Misalignment may lead to diplopia.
- Cancer/Brain tumor: cancerous or benign tumors can cause double vision as a result of their location.
- Cerebral edema: Brain swelling can place pressure on optic nerves or even the occipital lobe or optic chiasm itself, possibly resulting in double vision.
- Hypertension: High blood pressure itself typically doesn’t present with double vision, but prolonged blood pressure issues can put a strain on the vascular system, and strain on the blood vessels supplying the eye, specifically the retina. The swelling characteristic of hypertension may subsequently swell the retina, the center for turning light into visual information—causing diplopia.
- Vascular disease: Like hypertension, vascular disease affects the blood vessels which supply the eye. In vascular disease however, vessel leakage may occur, leading to a condition called ischemic optic neuropathy. Basically deterioration of sight as a result of poor blood flow.
- Thyroid conditions: A specific type of thyroid disease known as Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks eye tissue. The autoimmune response mistakes eye tissue for immune system tissue due to specific, similar proteins. The following deterioration can result in double vision, or worse if left untreated.
- Diabetes: Diabetes is commonly thought of as effecting blood sugar. However, diabetes can cause what are known as microvascular abnormalities, specifically micro-aneurysms (blood leakage in the vessels of the retina). This leakage generates neovascularization (formation of new vessels), a condition which can inhibit retinal function. In addition, diabetes is known to cause nerve palsies (of the Sixth/Abducen’s nerve), a specific term for nerve paralysis. This can inhibit eye movement, specifically looking outward, resulting in double vision.
- Sjogren’s syndrome (chronic dry eyes): The eye needs to remain moist to function properly. When the eye, particularly the cornea, dry out, damage can result. This damage can affect the way light enters the eye. In a healthy eye, light bounces off objects and enters our eye by first passing through the cornea. This light is then focused on the back of the eye onto receptors which send a signal to our brain. The brain then makes sense of these signals, turning them into an image. If there is damage to the lens, light entering the eye may not be focused on these receptors. This off center light produces a secondary sensory impulse which the brain may read as a separate image, and thus double vision.
- Keratoconus: Corneal malformations and unusual deterioration can be the result of corrective contacts and eye drops. The change in corneal shape may—again—bend light causing a double sight picture.
- Cataracts: As a result of ocular lens clouding, the key symptom associated with cataracts, light is refracted at a number of different angles instead of being focused. The end result of this scattering is a series of incomplete images which our brain may interpret as double vision. The situation may become worse at night.
- Eye surgery: Due to the reshaping of the cornea in many popular eye surgeries, light may be refracted differently than before and result in a double sight picture. This is a common side effect that usually clears up within a month or so. If the diplopia persists, another corrective surgery may be required.
- Strabismus: If the eyes are misaligned (esotropia, one eye pointing in; exotropia, one eye pointing out), the brain may interpret the visual signals as double vision. However, after time, the brain may compensate and adjust to fix the situation with suppression. Suppression is when the brain ignores the input from one eye to simplify sensory input.
- Antibiotic use: The prolonged use of fluoroquinolones, a common antibiotic, may cause issues affecting the tendon of the eye. This loss of muscular control can result in a misalignment and subsequent double vision. Discontinuing the course of antibiotics has been shown to resolve the symptoms. Ask your doctor before discontinuing any treatment.
Treatment for double vision is going to depend on the source of your problem. In the case of cataracts, surgery may be the answer; for strabismus, corrective eyewear with a prism may help; and for chronic dry eyes, drops may be all that are needed to correct diplopia. For other causes like hypertension, aneurysms, diabetes and so on, more drastic treatments will likely be required to cure the underlying cause of your diplopia.
In the interim however, Fresnel prisms (a sticker you place on the lens of your glasses) or blocking out one lens of your glasses all together may help those who have double vision as a result of stroke. Surgery to fix muscle damage is an option, as is eye physical therapy.
Due to the complexity of double vision and its causes, it’s best to seek the opinion of a trained medical professional, like a neurologist, optometrist or ophthalmologist.
But remember: if closing one eye (either one) stops your double vision, seek immediate medical attention.
Request more information about double vision treatment today. Call (847) 824-3127 or contact Dr. James Katz online.
The Midwest Center for Sight
Address8901 West Golf Road
Des Plaines, IL 60016
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thu: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sat: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm