6. October 2010 10:48
What is "double vision" and why do patients get these symptoms. When we look at an object, both of our eyes are aligned to view the the same object or point in space. If either of our eyes are misaligned or looking elsewhere, we may experience double vision or a condition known as diplopia. This may occur since the brain is getting two different
messages from each eye which may result in visual confusion. Patients with true double vision will state that the diplopia resolves when closing either eye. The symptoms resolve because the brain is only getting one image which eliminates the problem (temporarily). The symtoms typically re-occur when both eyes are open again.
These symptoms need to be distinguished from monocular diplopia, or double vision which occurs out of one eye. The causes of monocular double vision are typically very different than true or binocular double vision.
If a patient states that they still have double vision when closing one eye, then the problem most likely exists in the eye that is still open. Patient may have a glasses problem, a cornel surface situation or even a cataract. The problem is typically in the eye itself. However, patients with true double vision or binocular diplopia tend not to have an internal eye problem but eye misalignment. These patients are more likely to have a systemic problem or possibly a medical condition. Two of the most common causes of double vision in an adult are diabetes and thyroid disease. Trauma and other medical conditions can cause diplopia as well.
If you experience double vision or diplopia, you should follow up with your eye care professional immediately to determine the cause of the symptoms. A complete ocular history and exam will help your eye doctor determine the source for your symtoms. Some patients may need further testing, imaging, or blood work in addition to the exam. Remember, protect those eyes!
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