Hillary Clinton’s Therapeutic Glasses

During the recent Benghazi hearings, many in the news media took time to remark on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s new specs. It turns out that her fashionable thick-framed glasses weren’t a style statement: Instead, Ms. Clinton’s doctors prescribed their use as a treatment for double vision caused by her recent fall.

Double Vision

No, I’m not talking about the hit Foreigner album (though I am definitely dating myself by mentioning it) but a visual symptom characterized by seeing two images of whatever you happen to be looking at. Double vision is something to take seriously: Doctors warn that double vision is never normal and should always be investigated by a health care professional. Why? Because double vision can be a symptom of a serious condition, such as a tumor, thyroid problems, diabetes or an injury to the brain or eyes, though it can also be associated with less serious conditions, such as astigmatism. It is possible to have double vision in one or both eyes.

Treatment for the condition varies. In some cases, treating the cause, such as diabetes or a malfunctioning thyroid, does the trick. In other cases, a person may need surgery or Botox on the eye muscles: These treatments vary according to whatever triggered the double vision.

Other options include treating the condition by with prisms that are ether ground into eyeglass lenses or that are worn as a lens patch, the later being the prescribed treatment for the Secretary of State’s condition.

What Happened to Hillary

The Secretary of State caught a virus over the holidays and became dehydrated. The dehydration led to a fainting spell, during which she hit her head, leading to her double vision. While Ms. Clinton normally wears contacts, she switched to glasses treated with a Fresnel Prism on the left lens so that she could have clear vision during her recovery.

(Incidentally, Ms. Clinton’s adjustment of her glasses during her testimony became the focus of a rather amusing photo essay on the New York Magazine‘s website: The eyes may be the windows of a person’s soul, but clearly how we handle our our specs can speak louder than words.)

How the Media Found Out

Eye doctors use prisms to address conditions where the eyes aren’t working well together. A person’s doctor may begin prism treatment by adding an adhesive prism patch to one lens of the patient’s glasses. If the patient benefits from the prism, and continues to need treatment for their condition, it’s possible to grind prism lenses. While prism lenses are generally indistinguishable from other eyeglass lenses, a patch, even though it is transparent,  is obvious to others. Several reporters noticed the patch, inquiries were made and a spokesperson confirmed suspicions that Ms. Clinton is receiving treatment for double vision.

A Note About Head Injuries

Just as double vision (indeed, any change in vision) should be reported to a medical professional, it is likewise important for people to get treatment for head injuries. Unfortunately, it can be easy to just dismiss a head injury caused by a fall, bump or even whiplash. . .until some fairly nasty symptoms show up. Head injuries are associated with eye problems, some of which need immediate treatment for the best chance of recovery. Protect your brain, and your eyes, by seeking attention for any sort of bump or injury to your noggin.