Did you know?

As double vision can occur for a number of reasons, treatment will depend on its underlying cause. Contact your store or doctor as soon as you are able. If you experience double vision with pain or severe headache, you should go to your nearest A&E department.

What is 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
  • Pain around the eyes
  • Pain with movement of eyes
  • Weakness in the eyes
  • Drooped eye lids

In some cases, double vision can be a symptom of a more serious medical issue, so it’s important to see your optician as soon as possible. If your double vision has accompanying pain or severe headache, you should visit your nearest A&E department.

What causes double vision in both eyes?

Double vision in both eyes is known 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.

Causes of double vision in one eye

Double vision in one eye is known as monocular and is least common of the two. This type is usually caused by an eye problem, such as:

Episodes of temporary diplopia happen for many reasons, like if you’ve been drinking too much alcohol, or if you’re over-tired. Short-term double vision is usually nothing to worry about, but if you experience double vision for longer than 48 hours we’d recommend getting your eyes checked by your optician or your doctor.

Diagnosing double vision

If you’re experiencing symptoms of double vision it’s important to see your optician or doctor soon, as the causes and severity of double vision can vary.

In order to diagnose double vision, your optician will carry out a thorough eye examination to investigate the health of your eyes and assess the coordination of eye movements. During the exam, they may ask questions to understand the underlying causes of the double vision.

They may ask if your symptoms are:

  • In one eye (monocular) or both eyes (binocular)
  • Constant or intermittent
  • Same or changing with movement of head or direction of gaze
  • At near or far vision

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 optician will be able to help to determine the right solution and suggest the best treatment for you. In some cases, they may recommend you visit your doctor or a hospital eye department for treatment.