Double vision, or "seeing double," occurs when two nonmatching images are sent to the part of the brain that is responsible for processing visual input. If this occurs over the long term, the brain will eventually compensate for the two signals by suppressing one signal, so that a single image is perceived. The suppressed eye may eventually become amblyopic ("lazy eye") with resultant vision loss.
Double vision can result from impairment in any part of the vision system, including the cornea, eye muscles, lens, nerves, or the brain. The most common cause of diplopia is misalignment of the two eyes that can arise from several different conditions. Some diseases such as myasthenia gravis and Graves' disease can cause weakness of the eye muscles, leading to misalignment of the eyes and double vision. Poorly controlled diabetes can ultimately result in nerve damage that can manifest as diplopia, and diplopia can arise as a result of stroke, head injury, or other brain damage. While diplopia can be a symptom of the conditions listed below, it is not always present in these conditions.
Other causes of double vision
- Convergence Insufficiency
- Increased Intracranial Pressure
- Infection of the Cornea
- Medication Side Effects
- Rare Complication of Surgery Such as LASIK
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Alcohol Quiz: Alcoholism & Health Effects
Take the Alcohol (Alcoholism) Quiz to learn how your alcohol is processed by your body and your brain.
Cataracts Causes, Symptoms, Vision Tests, and Surgery
Cataracts are a painless clouding of the internal lens of the eye. Learn about symptoms (blurry vision, glare and poor night...
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) Symptoms and Diagnosis
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) can occur at any age for men or women. Learn more about the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome...
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Multiple Sclerosis is a debilitating neurological condition. Take the MS Quiz to test your knowledge of the causes, symptoms,...
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms and Treatment
Learn about multiple sclerosis (MS) causes, symptoms, and treatment for this autoimmune disease that attacks the nerves of the...
Picture of Cataracts
Cataract is a painless condition where the normally clear aspirin-sized lens of the eye starts to become cloudy. See a picture of...
Picture of Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis may be single or multiple and may range from mild to severe in intensity and short to long in...
Picture of Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)
Strabismus, also known as crossed eyes, is a condition in which the eyes don't look toward an object together. See a picture of...
Stroke Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery
What is a stroke? Learn about stroke symptoms like sudden numbness or weakness, confusion, vision problems, or problems with...
Stroke Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Take the Stroke Quiz to learn about stroke risks, causes, treatment, and most importantly, prevention.
What Are Cataracts?
What are cataracts and who gets them? Take this online quiz to learn how everyday activities may put you at risk.
What You Should Know About Multiple Sclerosis
Learn about celebrities, such as Montel Williams and Jack Osbourne, who are living with multiple sclerosis.
Causes of Double Vision
Alcoholism is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. It can cause myriad health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver, birth defects, heart disease, stroke, psychological problems, and dementia. Counseling and a few medications can be effective for alcoholism treatment.
Botulism is an illness caused by a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are three types of botulism: food-borne, wound, and infant. Symptoms include muscle paralysis, dry mouth, constipation, slurred speech, and blurred vision. If food-borne and wound botulism are detected early enough, they may be treated with an antitoxin. Infant botulism is treated intravenously with BabyBIG (Botulism Immune Globulin).
Brain aneurysm (cerebral aneurysm) is caused by microscopic damage to artery walls, infections of the artery walls, tumors, trauma, drug abuse. Symptoms include headache, numbness of the face, dilated pupils, changes in vision, the "worst headache of your life," or a painful stiff neck. Immediate treatment for a brain aneurysm is crucial for patient survival.
Brain Tumor: Warning Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatments, and Cure
A brain tumor can be either non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant), primary, or secondary. Common symptoms of a primary brain tumor are headaches, seizures, memory problems, personality changes, and nausea and vomiting. Causes and risk factors include age, gender, family history, and exposure to chemicals. Treatment is depends upon the tumor type, grade, and location.
A cataract is an eye disease that causes the eye's lens to become cloudy and opaque with decreased vision. Causes of cataracts include diabetes, hypothyroidism, certain genetic illnesses, hyperparathyroidism, atopic dermatitis, and certain medications. Symptoms and signs include a decrease in vision and a whitish color to the affected eye. Treatment depends upon the patient's specific visual needs and may involve cataract surgery.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or SEID)
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) is a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that lasts six months or longer, is not improved by bed rest, and may be worsened by physical or mental activity.
Concussion is a short-lived loss of brain function that is due to head trauma. There are two types of concussion, simple and complex. Symptoms of concussion include headache, nausea, dizziness, dazed feeling, irritability, visual symptoms. Physical signs include poor concentration, emotional changes, slurred speech, and personality changes. Concussion is diagnosed with physical examination and testing. Treatment for concussion in general are treatment for control of the symptoms, and time.
Eye Care and Eye Disorder
Many common eye disorders resolve without treatment and some may be managed with over-the-counter (OTC) products. It's important to visit a physician or ophthalmologist is the problem involves the eyeball itself or the condition hasn't improved after 72 hours of use of an eye-care OTC product.
Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA or Temporal Arteritis)
Giant cell arteritis, inflammation of blood vessel walls, affects 10%-15% of polymyalgia rheumatica patients. Symptoms of giant cell arteritis include fatigue, weight loss, low-grade fever, jaw pain when chewing, scalp tenderness, and headaches. High doses of cortisone medications are used to treat giant cell arteritis.
Graves' disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. Some of the symptoms of Graves' disease include hand tremors, rapid heartbeat, trouble sleeping, enlarged thyroid, thinning of the skin or fine brittle hair. Causes of Graves' disease are thought to be multifactorial such as genes, gender, stress, and infection. Treatment for Graves' disease is generally medication.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome is an autoimmune disease of the nervous system due to damage to the myelin sheath around nerves. It is the most acquired nerve disease (neuropathy) and usually follows a virus infection but can also be associated with immunizations, surgery, and childbirth. The cause is unknown but appears to be related to autoimmune reaction. Symptoms include weakness beginning in the legs and progressing upward, lost reflexes, and in severe cases breathing can be affected. Patients can expect a slow but progressive recovery over several months maintaining vital functions and passively exercising the muscles. Plasmapheresis (removing toxic substances from the blood) has been shown to improve outcome and shorten the disease as well as intravenous immunoglobulin.
Head Injury (Brain Injury)
In the United States, head injuries are one of the most common causes of death and disability. Head injuries due to bleeding are generally classified by the location of the blood within the skull, these include: epidural hematoma, subdural hematoma, subarachnoid bleed, intracranial bleed, sheer injury, edema, and skull fracture. Some common symptoms of a head injury include: vomiting, bleeding from the ear, speech difficulties, paralysis, difficulty swallowing, and body numbness. Treatment of a head injury depends on the type and severity of the injury.
Migraine headache is a type of headache associated with a sensitivity to light, smells, or sounds, eye pain, severe pounding on one side of the head, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The exact cause of migraine headaches is not known. Triggers for migraine headaches include certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, strong stimuli (loud noises), and oversleeping. Treatment guidelines for migraines include medicine, pain management, diet changes, avoiding foods that trigger migraines, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly. Prevention of migraine triggers include getting regular exercise, drinking water daily, reducing stress, and avoiding trigger foods.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms vary from person to person, and can last for days to months without periods of remission. Symptoms of MS include sexual problems and problems with the bowel, bladder, eyes, muscles, speech, swallowing, brain, and nervous system. The early symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis usually start between age 20 and 40. MS in children, teens, and those over age 40 is rare. Treatment options for multiple sclerosis vary depending on the type and severity of symptoms. Medications may be prescribed to manage MS symptoms.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Early Warning Signs and Types
Multiple sclerosis (MS) can be thought of as an immune-mediated inflammatory process involving different areas of the central nervous system (CNS) at various points in time. Early warning signs and symptoms of MS in children, teens, and adults are similar; however, children and teens with pediatric also may have seizures and a complete lack of energy. Adults with MS do not have these signs and symptoms. Other signs and symptoms of MS include inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis), changes in vision, Wiping or having tissues around the eye and moving the eye may be painful, and double vision. There are four types of MS, relapsing remitting MS (RRMS), secondary progressive MS (SPMS), primary progressive MS (PPMS), and progressive relapsing MD (PRMS).
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Life Expectancy
Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disorder in which brain and spinal cord nerve cells become demyelinated. This damage results in symptoms that may include numbness, weakness, vertigo, paralysis, and involuntary muscle contractions. Different forms of MS can follow variable courses from relatively benign to life-threatening. MS is treated with disease-modifying therapies. Some MS symptoms can be treated with medications.
Myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease. Varying degrees of weakness of the voluntary muscles of the body are the main characteristics. A defect in the transmission of nerve impulses of the muscles is the cause of myasthenia gravis. Myasthenic crisis is when the muscles that control breathing weaken, which requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include weakness of the eye muscles, facial expression, and difficulty swallowing. Treatment of myasthenia gravis includes medical therapies to control the symptoms of the disease.
Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)
Strabismus, or crossed eyes, is a condition in which the eyes do not align in the usual way. The condition may be congenital or the result of a problem with the control of the muscles of the eyes. Strabismus may cause double vision, headaches, eyestrain, and problems with depth perception and peripheral vision. Treatment may involve physical therapy, vision therapy, surgery, or wearing glasses.
A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding (hemorrhagic). Symptoms of a stroke may include: weakness, numbness, double vision or vision loss, confusion, vertigo, difficulty speaking or understanding speech. A physical exam, imaging tests, neurological exam, and blood tests may be used to diagnose a stroke. Treatment may include administration of clot-busting drugs, supportive care, and in some instances, neurosurgery. The risk of stroke can be reduced by controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stopping smoking.
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter