Causes and Symptoms of Double Vision

Double vision, or diplopia, is usually a temporary problem. However, it could also signal a more significant health condition. Several conditions and issues in the eyes and body can cause double vision. So, it is best to examine your eyes immediately when you notice any visual changes. 


What Is Double Vision?

People with this condition see two images of the same object. They might have double vision in one or both eyes, with the two images on top of the other, side by side, or both. That can affect your reading ability, movement, and balance. The visual issue only occurs when you open both of your eyes. However, it will go away if you close one eye since it happens when each eye sees slightly differently. 



Diplopia can develop as a symptom of another condition. However, you may experience the following symptoms with double vision:


  • Nausea

  • Headaches

  • Eye weakness

  • Droopy eyes

  • Eye misalignment

  • Eye pain

  • Pain with eye movement


Causes of Double Vision

A range of conditions can cause diplopia. These include issues within the eye, those in the brain, or problems with the nerves or muscles controlling eye movement and function. Some of these causes are relatively minor, but others can be life-threatening. Below are the most common causes of diplopia:


Corneal Problems

The cornea’s function is to focus light into the eye. Some corneal problems can distort the cornea’s surface, creating double vision. These problems include dry eyes, astigmatism, and scars caused by an eye injury, disease, or infection. Infections like herpes zoster or shingles can cause this visual problem. 


Eye Muscle Problems

The eye socket has six muscles that control eye movement down, up, in rotation, and to each side. Issues in these muscles include paralysis or weakness that can prevent your eyes from moving in coordination. Some eye muscle problems that can cause double vision are misaligned eyes and Graves’ disease.


Giant Cell Arteritis

This condition, also called temporal arteritis, results from the inflammation of the blood vessels near your temples. That leads to reduced blood flow, leading to anterior ischemic optic neuropathy. Other symptoms include double vision, persistent headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, fatigue, and vision loss. 


Lens Problems

The eye’s lens and cornea work together to focus light onto the cornea. The lens changes as it focuses. However, a clouding of the eye, known as a cataract, is a common lens problem that can cause diplopia. Fortunately, an eye doctor can remove cataracts through an outpatient surgical procedure. 


Nerve Problems

Specific nerves connecting the eye muscles to the brain control eye movement. However, some conditions can damage or affect these nerves, leading to diplopia. These include diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and myasthenia gravis.


Brain Problems

Several areas of your brain process visual information from the eyes through the nerves. However, an injury or illness affecting these areas can lead to double vision. The following brain conditions can cause double vision:


  • Stroke

  • Brain aneurysm

  • Migraine headaches

  • Brain tumor

  • The pressure inside the brain from trauma, infection, or bleeding



You must visit your eye doctor immediately if you are experiencing double vision. The doctor will act quickly to determine the underlying cause of your problem so that they can begin treatment immediately.

For more on double vision, visit Houston Dry Eye Clinic at our Houston, Texas, office. Call (713) 664-4760 to schedule an appointment today.