Double vision or diplopia is a particularly bothersome symptom that many people experience in their lives. As the name implies it is characterized by doubling everything a person sees when they are looking with both eyes. In most cases closing either eye will eliminate the symptoms, which indicates that a person experiences double vision caused binocularly – referred to as binocular diplopia. In some rare instances, though, diplopia can also present monocularly, most commonly due to certain specific refractive errors. In this instance, closing either eye will not eliminate the symptoms of double vision. Since binocular diplopia is far more prevalent, we will further focus exclusively on double vision with binocular characteristics.
Kids experience diplopia much more rarely than adults
Properly aligned eyes are prerequisites for healthy binocular vision. If the two eyes are not properly aligned, which most often occurs as a form of strabismus, a person can experience bothersome diplopia. In adults, in whom vision is already fully developed, diplopia oftentimes becomes a very disturbing symptom. Children, on the other hand, especially younger ones, are less likely to experience bothersome double vision even if their two eyes are not properly aligned. Since their vision is not fully developed yet, their brain is much more likely to shut down the image coming from the deviating eye and hence suppress the bothersome symptom of diplopia.
Children’s ability to suppress the deviating eye might indeed save them the bothersome symptom of diplopia but can on the other hand lead to the development of amblyopia. Thus, it is important that kids with eye misalignment, no matter how small, get properly checked by an ophthalmologist.
Many underlying conditions can cause double vision
Double vision is also a symptom that can be caused by a variety of other conditions, especially in adults. Therefore, it is important to find the cause and to rule out potentially dangerous underlying conditions before diplopia itself is addressed. Treatment options vary upon the cause and include eye exercises, drugs, surgery, as well as specialized prism glasses.