Diplopia is a very debilitating condition where an individual sees a double image instead of a single one. It can have a profound negative affect on an individual’s everyday life and can affect activities such as balance, walking, driving and reading.

What is Diplopia?

Double vision occurs when a person sees two images where there should only be one. The two images can be either side-by-side, one on top of the other, or a combination of both (oblique). Diplopia can either be monocular (arising from one eye) or binocular (arising from both eyes not working together).

What Causes Diplopia?

There are many causes of diplopia and these can be divided into monocular causes and binocular causes. Binocular diplopia results from the eyes not working together and is the most common type of double vision.

Each eye creates its own image of the environment and the brain combines the two inputs from each eye and perceives them as one clear picture.Binocular double vision is usually caused by a squint, but if it occurs suddenly, it could be a symptom of a much more serious medical condition.

What Are The Symptoms of Diplopia?

People who experience diplopia don’t always describe a double image as such. In some cases, this double vision can be little more than a feint ‘ghost’ image, which is easily confused with blurred vision.

Others experience a “splitting of images” which can go and come.Double vision makes it difficult to see objects at any distance, and can particularly affect a person’s spatial awareness, and therefore the ability to drive.

A person may also adopt an unusual head posture or tilt in order to compensate properly if that have had a squint since childhood

Diseases such as the thyroid eye disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, strokes and a number of other serious conditions can cause double vision. It’s therefore essential to make an appointment with an eye specialist as soon as possible if you have double vision.

Monocular diplopiais noted when a person experiences double vision when one eye is covered but not the other. It is less common than binocular double vision. Causesinclude: astigmatism, dry eye, keratoconus, cataracts and retinal abnormalities.

How is Diplopia Treated?

Treatment will depend entirely on the underlying cause. It could be as simple as addressing a dry eye problem or a cataract or it may necessitatewearing an eye patch, or special glasses with prisms.

Botox injections or eye muscle surgery may be used to correct a squint that causes double vision.