Double vision (diplopia)

Double vision can be caused by a number of different conditions, some of which can be serious. So it’s important to see your optometrist as soon as you experience symptoms.

What are the symptoms of double vision?

People with double vision will see two images of one object at the same time. It might look like the images are side by side, overlapping, or a mixture of the two. Some people are affected only occasionally, but for others it can be a constant problem.

You can experience double vision in one eye (monocular) or both eyes (binocular). By covering one eye, you’ll be able to tell which type you have. If both eyes are involved, the double vision will disappear as soon as you cover either eye. However, if the double vision remains when you have one eye covered then you have monocular double vision.

You may also experience:

  • Migraines
  • Headaches
  • Feeling sick

In some cases, double vision can be a symptom of a more serious medical issue, so it’s important to see your optometrist as soon as possible.

What causes double vision?

Double vision has many possible causes, depending on which type you have: monocular or binocular.

Monocular

Monocular double vision only affects one eye and is the least common of the two. This type is usually caused by an eye problem, such as:

Binocular

Most cases of double vision occur when both eyes aren’t working together properly. Each eye is surrounded by six muscles, which coordinate in order for the eyes to look toward the same point. Weakness in any of the muscles or their nerve supply can lead to binocular double vision. Rarely, but much more seriously, double vision can be caused by problems with the brain.

What is the treatment for double vision?

As double vision can occur for a number of reasons, treatment will depend on its underlying cause, and could range from simple eye exercises to minor surgery.

Your optometrist will be able to help to determine this and suggest the best treatment for you. In some cases, they may recommend you visit your GP, or a hospital eye department for treatment.

If you experience double vision with pain or severe headache, you should go to your nearest A&E department.

Did you know?

Eye tests are bulk billed to Medicare so there are no out of pocket expenses for you.

Frequently asked questions

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