Diplopia (Double Vision) in Children

Disease

Misaligned eyes tend to aim at two different targets, causing two different images to be sent to the brain. When the brain accepts two different images at the same time, it leads to Diplopia or Double Vision.

This eye condition isn't normal and is often a sign of a more serious eye condition or neurological disorder.

In the case of children, their brains shut down or suppress the information received from one of the misaligned eyes to prevent seeing double images. Unlike children, adults do not have a protective mechanism to suppress double images.

There are two types of double vision - Monocular Double Vision (affecting one eye) and Binocular Double Vision (affecting both eyes).

Causes

When the eyes become misaligned for the first time in childhood, double vision appears in the form of a symptom. It may be caused due to an injury, accident or infection among younger children. And the double vision may disappear even before the underlying problem is cured.

The reason behind the rise of double vision depends on whether one or both eyes are affected. Following are the causes of monocular and binocular double vision -

Monocular Double Vision

Monocular double vision is not as common as binocular double vision and comes into being due to the following eye problems -

1. Dry Eye Syndrome

2. Astigmatism

3. Keratoconus

4. Cataracts

Binocular Double Vision

Cranial nerve palsy resulting from trauma, infection and ischemia is an important cause of binocular diplopia.
Also, normally binocular double vision is a symptom of squint. The nerves or muscles of the eyes force them to look in different directions in squint. Children are more prone to having squints.

Children with squints don't always experience double vision. Also, if the squint is not treated by the age of 7, it could further lead to lazy eyes.

Diagnosis

While getting diagnosed, your doctor will make a note of all the symptoms your child may be experiencing. Additionally, a few tests will be conducted to further examine the problem.

Diagnosing double vision is itself quite challenging as there may be multiple reasons causing it. But when it comes to diagnosing it in children it becomes even more challenging.

During diagnosis, the doctor will look out for the following signs -

1. Eyes Flicking Side-by-Side

2. Squinting Eyes to See

3. Turning the Head in an Unusual Way

4. Covering One Eye with the Hand

5. Looking at Objects from the Side

Treatment

Double vision will disappear once its underlying cause is determined and treated.

The doctor will prescribe the best suited treatment depending on what is causing your child's double vision. The doctor may prescribe any of the following treatment options for your child -

1. Eye Exercises

2. Eye Patch

3. Glasses or Contact Lenses

Surgery

Surgery is the best option if your child's double vision has resulted from an injury and does not go away even after treatment. In some severe cases your child may be required to undergo a surgery to treat the underlying cause of the double vision. What a surgery does is, it adjusts the muscles of the eyes to straighten them and in turn, cures the diplopia.

Takeaway

Double vision could be a sign of a more serious eye problem. Hence, you must immediately consult your ophthalmologist when your child experiences double vision.


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