Diplopia is more commonly known as “double vision” because that is exactly what you see, double everything! This is usually (but not always) caused by a lesion in the brain stem near the cranial nerves that control various eye muscles.
How to Treat Diplopia
Like optic neuritis, there is not much you can do to make the symptom go away besides wait, take , or Acthar to try to help relieve inflammation, however, there are ways to better cope with the symptom to make life a little easier. Most commonly used (for short term cases of double vision) is the simple eye patch. Double vision usually goes away when one eye is covered (since double vision is typically caused when your two eyes do not perfectly align properly) so an eye patch does just that (covers one eye) while allowing you to go about your day without keeping one hand over one eye. The only problem here (besides the undesirable pirate look) is that if you keep one eye covered for too long then it may grow weak in the sense that it will get used to not ever having to let light in so it’s best to switch the patch from eye to eye here and there.
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What I did to allow light into my eye (while still blocking out visual information that contributed to my double vision) is I simply put a thin medical tape over one lens of my glasses. This tape was light and thin enough to let light through to my eye while keeping me from actually seeing anything with that eye. I still switched the tape from one lens to the other but not as often since it was a tad tricky to peel the tape up and re-tape to the opposite lens every time.
When Diplopia persists you can always go to an optometrist to get a prism lens put on your glasses to help realign your eyesight in hopes of correcting your double vision. Don’t worry, this is not some giant lens attachment that everyone will notice weighing down your glasses, you will not look like some cyborg, it basically looks like a simple piece of tape! Most of the time you can’t even see it without really looking for it!
I have had double vision many times since the start of my MS but to be honest, it really didn’t start happening much at first, mostly not for a while after my actual diagnosis. I remember it going like this; I would wake up, the ceiling (which is all white) looked normal like any other morning, then I would sit up and notice things don’t look quite right in the room, once I stood, woke up, rubbed my eyes, and started walking around it would dawn on me, “I can’t really see what I am doing”. Like a camera slowly coming into focus my eyes would adjust but never into a crystal clear image, everything was kind of blurry, blurry but different, then I would realize, I see two of everything!
Typically at first I would find myself laying on the floor and staring at the light fixture on the ceiling, well, both of them. I would try to focus them together back into one single object but at the most I could just make the two fixtures I saw split further apart and that is it. I eventually learned about the eye patch and yes, it helped. I would put it on and suddenly there was just one of everything, it was nice except for having to tilt my head a bit left or right so that I could have a wider field of vision, plus, the strap did get itchy after a while of being pressed to my skin. That is when I decided to try the medical tape on one lens of my glasses, that was much better, again, it was a hassle but well worth it. My double vision would be so bad sometimes that I often found myself thinking “it would be easier to get around if I was 100% blind than when everything is doubled”. Sure, not knowing which of the 2 things you are staring at sucks, but no, it would not be better at all to be full out blind, but it did cross my mind in the middle of my misery.