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By: James Wymore, M.D.

Diabetes causes a wide array of problems throughout the body, and the eye is no exception. Diplopia, or double vision, is one of those problems. It can occur suddenly and be quite uncomfortable and alarming.

The effects of diabetes can damage circulation enough to cause a palsy, or paralysis, of the various muscles that move the eyes. If one muscle or a group of muscles in one eye doesn’t work properly, the eyes are no longer aligned and two images are presented to the brain instead of one. Obviously, reading, driving, and other visual tasks become quite difficult.

The first concern is the exact cause. While diabetes is one of the more common suspects, more ominous diagnoses, such as tumor or aneurysm, must be ruled out. Depending upon the clinical situation, lab tests may be ordered to investigate those possibilities.

If it is decided that diabetes is the most likely cause, the eyes are then monitored closely. Patching one eye or using prisms may relieve the discomfort of the diplopia, but time helps the most. Many muscle palsies due to diabetes will improve over weeks to months, commonly with full resolution. For those not completely resolved, prisms may be needed in glasses permanently. If the residual diplopia is severe, eye muscle surgery may be necessary.

While the outcome is usually a happy one with diabetic induced double vision, it is still important to have your eyes checked immediately to determine the correct diagnosis and ensure the best clinical course.

BIO: Dr. Wymore, with Eye Surgeons Associates, is a board-certified general ophthalmologist. Dr. Wymore practices at our offices in Rock Island and Silvis, Illinois.

The material contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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