As a parent, any change in your child’s health or behavior can be alarming, especially if you don’t know what’s causing that change. If your child reports “seeing double,” it’s certainly a cause for concern — but the good news is, in many cases, the causes of diplopia are benign.
In fact, every year, almost a million Americans — adults and kids — seek medical treatment for double vision. The key to finding out what’s causing diplopia — and to having it promptly corrected — is to seek care as soon as possible.
At ABC Children’s Eye Specialists, our team offers custom treatment plans for children with double vision based on their symptoms and their health needs. If your child is reporting double vision, here’s what could be causing it — and how our team can treat it.
Causes of double vision
Normally, both eyes work in tandem to collect light, process it, and “translate” light data into the images we see. Double vision happens when something occurs that interrupts or interferes with that process.
Several issues can cause double vision, including problems present at birth (congenital issues), trauma, neurological disorders, and tumors. A recent study found that while diplopia is a common symptom in patients of all ages, in children the most common cause is strabismus, or “crossed eyes.”
Strabismus happens when the eyes don’t work together as a team. In cases of strabismus, when your child looks at an object, one eye remains focused while the other eye drifts up, down, inward, or outward.
Strabismus usually happens when the muscles that control movement in the affected eye are weaker than the muscles in the stronger or dominant eye. Strabismus may affect one or both eyes, and in addition to double vision, it can cause headaches, eyestrain, and blurry vision that can interfere with school, sports, and other activities.
The same study found traumatic injury and nerve palsies were the second- and third-most common causes of double vision in the children studied. Traumatic injuries that cause double vision typically involve impact injuries to the face or head, resulting in damage to the cornea, the retina, or the optic nerve.
Nerve palsies affect the way your brain interprets vision images or the way those images are transmitted between the eyes and the brain. These causes are less common, but they still need to be assessed during the initial exam.
Treating double vision
Double vision treatment begins with a comprehensive eye exam to find out what’s causing it. After reviewing your child’s symptoms and medical history, our team uses advanced techniques and technology to assess your child’s vision and vision processes.
Most children with double vision can be successfully treated using a combination of:
- Prism glasses
- Vision therapy
Uncommonly, surgery may be needed to correct more serious issues that can’t be treated using more conservative options.
Pediatric eye care for a lifetime of good vision
Because kids are continually undergoing periods of growth and development, their medical needs can be dramatically different from the medical and health needs of adults. Working with a pediatric eye care specialist ensures your child gets the care they need to prevent serious vision problems and protect their eye health.
If your child is experiencing double vision or any other vision-related symptom, call or book an appointment online at our practice in Phoenix or Mesa, Arizona, and learn how the team at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists can help.