What is Diplopia?

Double vision while driving

Causes and Treatments For Diplopia

Many of us have experienced diplopia, or double vision, at some time in our lives. About 850,000 visits to doctor's offices and emergency rooms are due to double vision, according to a research study conducted at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center.

Diplopia isn't necessarily a sign of a serious eye condition. It can occur if your eyes are dry, you're tired, or you have a pounding migraine. In most cases, double vision doesn't last long, and your vision quickly returns to normal.

Although diplopia is usually temporary, it can be a chronic problem for some people. Double vision complicates your life, making reading, writing, and even walking difficult. Fortunately, vision therapy can help you stop seeing double.

What Causes Diplopia?

Good vision is more complicated than it looks. Your eyes, muscles, nerves, and brain work together to produce the images you see. If a problem affects any of these structures or organs, you may experience double vision in one or both eyes. Images may appear side by side, or you may see one image on top of the other.

Double vision can be caused by:

  • Strabismus. Commonly called "crossed eyes," strabismus occurs when the eyes aren't properly aligned. As a result, the brain doesn't receive the same input from both eyes, which can cause double vision. If the condition isn't corrected, the brain may eventually ignore the signals it receives from one eye. Even minor alignment issues can cause strabismus.
  • Muscle and Nerve Problems. Strong eye muscles allow your eyes to move easily between objects and are essential for eye alignment. Problems can also occur if the nerves that carry messages between your brain and eye muscles are damaged.
  • Cataracts. Cataracts cloud the normally clear lenses of your eyes and may be responsible for double vision.
  • Diabetes. You may be more likely to experience diplopia if your diabetes isn't properly controlled.
  • Convergence Insufficiency. Convergence insufficiency occurs when your eyes don't work well together when you focus on near objects.
  • Refractive Procedures. Some people experience double vision after having Lasik or photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) surgery to improve their eyesight.
  • Issues with Your Cornea. Scars, infections and even chronic dry eye can damage your cornea, the clear layer of cells that covers your iris and pupil. Diplopia can also occur if you have keratoconus, a condition that happens when your cornea thins and becomes cone-shaped.
  • Head Injury. Double vision can be an issue with head injuries, even if the injury seems minor.
  • Processing Problems. The brain processes the light impulses it receives from your eyes and turns those impulses into images. Injuries, infections, tumors, aneurysms, and strokes may affect the brain's processing abilities, causing double vision and other vision issues.

How is Diplopia Treated?

Diplopia treatment varies depending on the cause. Replacing your cloudy lens with an intraocular lens implant will end diplopia if you have cataracts, while keeping your blood sugar under control and reducing double or blurred vision if you have diabetes.

Vision therapy may be helpful if you have certain eye conditions, including amblyopia, strabismus (lazy eye), convergence insufficiency or visual processing problems. It may also improve double vision and other symptoms that can occur if you have a muscle or nerve problem or are recovering from a stroke or head injury.

The therapy can strengthen weak eye muscles, improve eye teaming, and enhance the connection between your eyes and brain. During vision therapy, you may play a computer game that trains your eyes to work together. You may be asked by your vision therapist to call out the letters you see on a swinging ball or improve your convergence abilities by stacking wooden blocks on a peg. Prism lenses may also be used during your treatment. The lenses bend the light rays entering your eyes, ensuring that your brain receives the same information from both of your eyes.

It's never too late to participate in vision therapy. If you're an adult, you may have been told that there's no hope for your problem. Eye doctors now know that the adult brain is much more adaptable than once thought. In fact, you can benefit from vision therapy no matter what your age.

Are you tired of living with double vision? Contact us to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye examination.


Optometrists Network: Successful Improvement of Eyesight with Therapy for Patients with Lazy Eye Proven Possible at Later Ages by Many New Studies


University of Michigan Health: Report Reveals Prominence of Double Vision Complaints, 10/26/17


All About Vision: Diplopia: Double Vision and Ghost Images, 6/19


Harvard Health Publishing: Double Vision, 7/19


Stanford Health Care: Causes of Double Vision



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  • "Before our daughter began vision therapy she was struggling with reading and sports. We thought she was just clumsy (walking into walls and falling a lot). My wife and I know something was't quite right; so we had our daughter tested for Central Auditory Processing Disorder, took her to an optometrist and to an eye specialist at a hospital. My wife's mother urged us to see Dr. Gordon. A significant visual tracking problem was found.
    After vision therapy our daughter went from needing extra help with reading to reading above grade level. She is now excelling in softball and has been named to the All-Star Team this year. She has become more confident and willing to try new things."
    "We can't thank Dr. Gordon's office enough for our daughter's success."
    Drew D.
  • "Before vision therapy reading was terrible. Nothing made sense on the paper. Vision therapy helped me with spelling and reading. I'm not skipping lines when reading and I love how I was taught to spell. I bring home 100's in spelling and reading is coming along too!
    I'm also on the Honor Roll at school too!"
    Elizabeth S.
  • "Our son was in 2nd grade when we found out that he had vision problems. He was referred to the occupational therapist in school for his handwriting. After her testing she called to tell us that all of signs were related to vision problems. Our son complained of headaches, motion sickness and very bad handwriting.
    Most of his teachers were telling us they thought he had ADD or ADHD.
    His attention span in school was short and he rushed through his work. He absolutely hated anything that had to do with writing.
    After starting vision therapy we saw improvements very quickly; as well as his teachers. His handwriting has improved tremendously and his posture is much better.
    We are so thankful for the occupational therapist discovering his vision challenge. We drove an hour and a half each way to Dr. Gordon's office for our weekly vision therapy sessions.
    The success of our son was well worth the drive."
    Amber W.
  • "What a difference! It has been an emotional roller coaster dealing with certain aspects of our son's left. But it was refreshing to know that we could count on the staff administering vision therapy to have his best interest in mind. To watch our son overcome the obstacles he had prior to vision therapy is worth everything. We absolutely recommend vision therapy because we have seen what it can do for our child. We are grateful for vision therapy and couldn't imagine his life without it!"
    Jerome K.
  • "I saw words differently and struggled throughout my childhood with my sight. After years of testing and appointments I found Dr. Gordon who diagnosed a Convergence Insufficiency. After a few months of vision therapy I was amazed at the my improvement.
    My life is truly changed!"
    Ella S.
  • "My son has always struggled in school. As an educator I looked for answers based on what I knew; learning disabilities, ADHD, etc. By the time he was in 4th grade I had to find some way to help my son. I realized that many of his symptoms were similar to many of my students who had Central Auditory Processing difficulties. Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center confirmed the diagnosis and recommended a visual processing evaluation. No one ever considered his reading challenges to be related to a visual processing problem. Since starting vision therapy his struggles in school have decreased, his math grades have improved as well as his reading; and he is more confident in his ability to succeed."
    Joanne L.
  • "Dr. Gordon is a developmental optometrist, which means...he is trained to deal with eye dysfunctions beyond simple near-sightedness/far-sightedness and...he can help improve vision through behavior programs. Dr. Gordon patiently worked with me to get the best possible prescription...He's a compassionate and very competent eyecare professional, and I strongly recommend him."
    Michael L.