Double vision, medically known as diplopia, is not a condition per se. It actually represents a symptom of numerous medical conditions and disorders.
What Are Causes of Double Vision?
The problem may develop due to an error that affects different parts of the vision system. This is why double vision may be associated with abnormal function or damage to the cornea, lens, muscles of the eye, nerves that carry visual information from the eyes to the brain and, finally, several areas of the brain that process visual information obtained from the eyes.
There are many conditions that may cause double vision. For example, corneal problems include infections, complications of certain surgeries (LASIK surgery) etc. The most common condition that affects the lens and features with double vision is cataract. Furthermore, double vision may occur due to muscle problems associated with several illnesses that affect the eye muscles such as myasthenia gravis and Grave's disease. Damage to the optical nerve generally occurs due to multiple sclerosis and may also affect people suffering from diabetes and Guillian-Barre syndrome. And finally, brain problems that are commonly responsible for double vision include stroke, aneurysms, increased intracranial pressure (trauma, bleeding or infection), brain tumors and migraines.
Double Vision and Additional Problems
Even though double vision may occur as an isolated symptom it is generally accompanied by several more symptoms and signs depending on the underlying disease. For instance, there may be a misalignment of one or both eyes, pain inside the eyeballs induced by the eye movement, pain around the eyes (in temples, eyebrows etc.), headache, nausea, droopy eyelids etc.
It is essential to visit a doctor who will perform a thorough examination and additional tests and exams in order to establish the underlying cause of double vision. Once the cause is identified the treatment for double vision may start.
Therapy for Double Vision
It is of great importance to identify the underlying cause of double vision as soon as possible. In some cases the symptom is associated with emergency medical conditions which require prompt treatment.
Infections of the cornea are treated with suitable medications. Cataract is always treated surgically. Myasthenia gravis and Grave's disease are treated with specific drugs and once these illnesses are brought under control double vision disappears. In severe form of Grave's disease patients may additionally require surgery. Damage to the optic nerve caused by uncontrolled diabetes is in majority of cases irreversible. And finally, all conditions that cause damage to structure and function of the brain such as stroke, brain tumors etc. require specific treatment which may be conservative or surgical or even a combination of the two.