Think you’re seeing double? You could be experiencing an eye condition called, Diplopia. Diplopia is commonly referred to as double vision because of the perception of seeing more than one image. The impaired functioning can occur as a result of sports injury, neurological damage, ophthalmologic, or autoimmune problems.
Recently, pictures of Hilary Clinton wearing new eyeglasses became much speculation during her statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the attack toward Benghazi, Libya. The issues stemming from her vision could be linked to Diplopia “double vision.”
Dr. Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO, California Optometric Association Member was interviewed regarding Diplopia. Dr. Barnett also discussed Vision Therapy, a treatment used to correct Diplopia.
How many individuals are affected by Diplopia?
There is an extremely high incidence (greater than 50 percent) of visual and visual-cognitive disorders in neurologically impaired patients (traumatic brain injury from sports or MVA, mild brain injury – kids in karate, soccer, falling down, stroke, aneurysm, cerebral vascular accidents, multiple sclerosis etc.).
Visual problems after brain injury
Double vision (cranial nerve palsy, decompensation) decreased ability to compensate for weak eye muscle coordination). Longstanding – leads to suppression of one eye, loss of peripheral vision and depth perception (2D view of world affecting sports, driving).
- Loss of side vision, loss of depth perception, visual spatial localization, dizziness, imbalance, inability to track and follow targets or read, light sensitivity.
- Post Traumatic Vision Syndrome - Affects ability to walk, balance, read, drive, etc. Vision problems are disconcerting, affects safety, confidence, productivity.
Prism: Fresnel or clear (like what Hillary Clinton is wearing), special lens that bends light to bring images together. Clear or Fresnel, a type of membrane lens cut out and applied to the inside surface of a spectacle lens. The more vertical lines you see, the higher the power of the prism, so the prism Hillary is wearing is powerful. Her double vision must therefore be of a significant amount without her prism in place.
- Vision therapy (aims to train non-damaged part of brain to do what damaged part used to do). Exercises to stimulate and train the brain using the principles of neuroscience.
- Visual Rehabilitation: If brain damage is severe, and not [because of] temporary swelling, visual abilities will not return. Rarely, surgery is needed.
What are the symptoms?
There are a variety of symptoms including seeing a single object as double, a misalignment of one or both eyes or a "cross-eyed" appearance, pain around the eyes or headache.
What is the most common way people get Diplopia?
There are different ways for people to get diplopia. Problems with any part of the visual system can lead to double vision. If you experience double vision, advise your doctor immediately.
Cataracts are the most common problem with the lens that causes double vision.
If a muscle in one eye is weak, the two eyes do not work together. Muscle problems can result from several causes including myasthenia gravis or Grave’s disease.
What are preventative tools?
Double vision due to eye injuries can be prevented by wearing protective goggles and headgear during sporting activities and at work. There is no way to prevent double vision due to age related cataracts.
Under-corrected or uncorrected refractive error can be prevented by having an eye examination with a California doctor of Optometry to diagnose and treat the visual system.
What are the side effects of having Diplopia?
[A person] seeing two images, not one. There are three types of double vision.
Binocular double vision is when both of the eyes do not work together properly. The double vision will disappear if the patient covers one eye, or the other.
Monocular double vision is when double vision continues when the unaffected eye is covered. The double vision comes from just one eye.
Physiological double vision is when objects the person is not focusing on - background objects - appear doubled.
Can having Diplopia cause vertigo?
Double vision can cause vertigo, and the opposite is true as well.
Is it common for people with Diplopia to report migraines?
Both diplopia and vertigo are symptoms of migraine headaches and are frequently experienced at the same time as the migraines.
What is vision therapy? Please explain the process, and who's the right candidate?
Vision therapy is a sequence of activities individually prescribed and monitored by a doctor of optometry to develop efficient visual skills and processing. The vision therapy program is based on the results of standardized tests, the needs of the patient, and the patient's signs and symptoms. The use of lenses, prisms, filters, occluders, specialized instruments, and computer programs is an integral part of vision therapy.
An appropriate candidate for vision therapy is based on the results of standardized tests, the needs of the patient, and the patient's signs and symptoms.