The most common reason people visit their optometrist is for a regular check-up. It's people who wear glasses, in particular, who see their optometrist regularly to get their eyes tested and find out if they need a new prescription, although it's an important part of routine healthcare for everyone.
Optometrists can do more than just routine testing, however, and there are some situations where you might need to make an appointment in an emergency. One such situation is if you suddenly begin experiencing double vision. Also known as diplopia, double vision can be temporary or more long-term, but it's important to get it checked out quickly in either case. Here are some of the reasons you might be experiencing it.
A recurrence of childhood squint
Squint, or strabismus, is a condition whereby the eyes point different ways. It's more common in children than adults and is usually fixed by treatments ranging from glasses to surgery, depending on the underlying cause.
Occasionally, people who had squint as a child can experience its return in adulthood. If this happens, the problem should be obvious when looking at your eyes. In adults, squint could be pointing to serious underlying issues, so see your optometrist without delay.
There are various things that can damage your corneas, including physical injury, infection and various eye conditions. It's more common to just have one cornea damaged, in which case your vision will be fine when the affected eye is covered. However, it's not impossible for both to be damaged at the same time.
If one or both of your corneas is damaged, double vision is just one of the possible visual disturbances you might experience. It could be accompanied by blurriness, spots in your vision, or just difficulty seeing clearly.
Cataracts are a relatively common problem, especially among older people. They can usually be treated successfully with simple surgery, but the earlier they're diagnosed, the better.
Although the most common sign of a cataract is vision becoming out of focus, you can also get double vision. Like cornea damage, you may have a combination of symptoms.
Dry eye syndrome
As the name suggests, people with dry eye syndrome don't produce the normal quantity of tears. This leads to discomfort and itching, and it can possibly become painful over time. Over an extended period, however, your vision can become severely out of focus. There are numerous treatment options for dry eye syndrome, so see your optometrist immediately for diagnosis and advice.