Seeing Double, and I’m Not Even Drunk!

The eye problem diplopia and MS create challenging days for our columnist

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

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I only had my glasses for two years, yet reading anything on my phone was now nigh impossible. Still, it did cure my Facebook and Twitter addiction.

Yer, yer, I’m old. (I’m 64, you know.) Sure, I’ve written this before — surely that’s a free pass for us aged folk. Surely that’s a free pass for us aged folk. I don’t think I’ll get away with writing this a third time (er, copying and pasting!) by my esteemed editor, even though it violates the comedy rule of three. Maybe not, if it’s not funny in the first place.

Sorry, I’m rambling. I’m old, you know …

Where was I? (That’s enough, says the esteemed editor.)

Sure, your eyesight changes faster and faster with age, but it wasn’t that.

Passenger jets were closely chasing each other across the sky.

This summer, our airport infrastructure completely broke down here in the U.K., due to a surge in travelers and a shortage of staff. Immense numbers of flights were cancelled at the last minute because of a lack of pilots. Then, a dearth of baggage handlers led to some of the few pilots who actually turned up having to load the passengers’ baggage themselves. This caused interminable queues, general mayhem, and for some, days of sleeping in the terminal.

“Yes, I had a lovely time during my two weeks at Heathrow Airport, thank you. Would you like to see my holiday pictures? This lovely sushi bar was our fave place to eat. The lighting was particularly restful in the evening after a hard day’s fighting for the few sockets to charge the old iPhone.”

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I discovered that if I closed one eye, everything suddenly focused again. There was just one plane.

It turns out there was an easy solution, probably on Amazon: a small cover that fits over your glasses. There were lots of these, so it must be a general problem. The ones I liked most turned out to come from Japan. The instructions were in Japanese; that was all Chinese to me.

Recently, though, using one eye became increasingly difficult, as not enough light came out of my computer screen to write easily. It was on full, but unfortunately, it had no setting to turn the brightness up to 11!

Wondering if it was just another comorbidity of multiple sclerosis (MS) to add to a crowded list, I phoned my opticians. They persuaded me to come in. I’ve been somewhat reticent of such visits ever since my spectacular fall backward in my wheelchair while entering their premises last year.

It turns out I had something called diplopia, where the muscles of the eyes no longer work in unison. My optician says diplopia is a relatively common condition. I asked if she’d seen many of us MS mob. It turned out she’d experienced a higher incidence in us lot. And indeed, it’s something that happens to MS patients in particular — it’s even a possible early indicator.

All I needed was new reading glasses with a “prism” fitted. It seems something opticians deal with regularly. I could read again! So far, on the phone, there’s so much fascinating news at the moment that Facebook remains but a grimace.

Planes still double up the same with my old long-distance glasses. As yet it doesn’t affect watching the telly. And there’s still only single cars on the road.

So I have another comorbidity to add to my collection. Or perhaps not, as it came up during my tests for a recent drug trial, the subject of last week’s column, and the doctor there informed me it’s only “a complication.”

So now I have a mess of comorbidities and one complication in my MS collection. Go, me.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content 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 provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Broughton Leanne Broughton avatar

Broughton Leanne Broughton

I developed diplopia in 2018. It was my worst relapse. 2 rounds of steroids did not help. I had IV cyclophosphamide, 3 rounds 1 month appart (low dose cancer chemo). It worked but as with relapses my physical abilities never fully went back. I then started Ocrevus. I am no longer on it. My MS continues to slowly progress though no true relapses.

Leslie Flippin avatar

Leslie Flippin

Well, John.......It sounds like you are still going strong. You have a good attitude and understand this not so fun autoimmune disease that is called Multiple Sclerosis. I was diagnosed in 2002 and feel Blessed to be alive. Since I have entered my seventies, the aging process has decided to join in with the other not so fun illnesses. I have had Covid 2 times since February 22 and June 22, 2022. High Blood Pressure. Rapid Heart Rate. Surgeries. etc. have jumped on my Merry Go Round. I don't use a cane yet and can still pick myself up like a lady, but sometimes there will be two gentlemen appear out of nowhere to gently help. I say stay strong. ride that horse and keep Rootin' and Tootin'!!!! Keep on Smilling!!.................................Leslie.

John Connor avatar

John Connor

Thanks Leslie.
I'm afraid it takes 3 men & specialist equipment to pick me up.
When u've got MS being 'picked up' sure has a v. different meaning.

Nathalie Batoux avatar

Nathalie Batoux

One way to "see" diplopia as a positive is to remove your prism glasses on a clear starry night and you see twice as many stars...
Ok not so good to recognise constellations, but still, it's pretty, whilst an annoying condition...

John Connor avatar

John Connor

Will I get extra UFO's?

Penny-Marie Wright avatar

Penny-Marie Wright

I got the double vision & went to an eye doctor who had a hard time getting the correct lenses for me. The prism in them finally worked. I was driving 40 miles round trip with 1 eye closed to keep from seeing double before we found the solution.

Mark Genco avatar

Mark Genco

Hi John,

I get diplopia because of a condition called internuclear ophthalmoplegia (INO)...basically one eye moves normally and one doesn't. A consequence of a lesion caused by our beloved demyelinating condition!
It's getting worse so where i used to be able to control it just via moving my head instead of my eyes I am seeing a lot more double now.
Can the prisms be fitted to distance glasses do you know? I anticipate i am just about to lose my driving licence. The question where it states 'Do you suffer with diplopia?' and I answer 'yes' then it moves on to 'is it controlled?' and I say 'no' doesn't bode well with the DVSA i'm sure!!

I may get a patch for the pirate look...any recommendations?

John Connor avatar

John Connor

Yup. My optician offered long distnnce glasses as well with ol' prism. Didn't get them as this would have been an extrta £120.


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