When someone with diplopia looks at an object, what do they see? If you know that this Latin-derived word breaks down into dipl- (which means “double”) and -opia (vision), then you probably have a clue. For parents, double vision in kids can be a worrisome condition, and in some cases, that worry is well-founded.
Imagine growing up seeing double all the time. Would you be able to concentrate on school? Math and reading would be pretty difficult if you had extra numbers and letters floating around in front of you.
But it’s not all bad news. If you are concerned that your child has diplopia, or if your child has already been diagnosed, these facts may reassure you.
Is It Permanent?
First, let’s get one thing straight—diplopia does not need to be permanent. With the right diagnosis, treatment, and management, double vision in kids can improve over time. Whether the cause is strabismus, amblyopia, or another common reason for double vision in children, your child’s double vision need not last forever.
There Are Two Classifications of Double Vision
Doctors classify diplopia in two ways: monocular diplopia and binocular diplopia.
Monocular diplopia occurs when a patient sees double in a single eye. Possible causes of monocular double vision include:
- A dislocated lens
- Dry eye
Binocular diplopia, on the other hand, occurs when the eyes are misaligned. If the patient covers one of their eyes and the double vision stops, they have some form of binocular diplopia, which is more common than the monocular type. When one or more of the muscles that control the direction of the eye do not function as they should, binocular double vision occurs. Here are some common conditions that cause it:
- Myasthenia gravis
- Graves’ disease
- Facial trauma
Without Treatment, Double Vision in Kids Can Lead to Blindness
When binocular diplopia occurs over a long time, the brain tries to compensate. Double vision can be detrimental to safety and survival, so when a patient does not seek treatment to correct the condition causing it, the brain simply ignores the stimuli entering one of the eyes. In other words, the brain may suppress or “turn off” vision in one of the eyes to prevent injury.
However, with the proper treatment, the patient will be able to regain vision in the suppressed eye again.
You Have Options for Treatment
The treatment options available to your child depend on what is causing their diplopia. For example, astigmatism is easily treatable with prescription contact lenses. Surgery may be required in some instances, as with cataracts and muscle dysfunction. Double vision in children caused by strabismus is treatable with prescription glasses and therapy, though in some cases it may also require surgery.
The bottom line is that to treat your child’s double vision, you first need to get an accurate diagnosis. Let us help you get to the bottom of your child’s vision problem so that you can set them up for success in life.