Double vision 

Introduction 

Driving

If you have new double vision, or other eye-related conditions, your driving ability is likely to be affected. Check with your GP or ophthalmologist (eye care specialist) if you have an eye condition and you are unsure whether it affects your ability to drive safely.

If problems with your vision affect your ability to drive and you hold a current driving licence, it is your legal obligation to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Visit the GOV.UK website to find out how to tell the DVLA about a medical condition.

Double vision (medically known as diplopia) is seeing two images of a single object some or all of the time. The two images may be one on top of the other, side by side, or a mix of both.

Double vision may be constant or it may come and go. Read more about the symptoms of double vision.

The cause of your double vision depends on whether your double vision is coming from one eye or both eyes. This will also affect any treatment you receive.

Treatment ranges from special glasses and eye exercises, to surgery to remove a cataract. Read more about treating double vision.

When to see your GP

You should visit your GP as soon as possible if you develop double vision. If you have not had double vision before, it's important to have it checked as it could be a symptom of a serious medical condition.

Your GP will probably refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) at your local hospital.

Read more information about diagnosing double vision.

What causes double vision?

Each eye creates its own, slightly different image because the two eyes are physically located in different positions. However, you usually only see one image. This is because your brain joins the images produced by each eye together into a single image in a process known as fusion.

If your eye muscles or nerves are damaged, the muscles may not be able to control your eyes properly and you may develop double vision. Your eye muscles can also be weakened as a result of a health condition, or your eyes may not be aligned properly. This is sometimes known as a squint.

Read more about the causes of double vision.

Double vision in one eye

Double vision in one eye is known as monocular double vision. You should be able to see normally if the affected eye is covered, but double vision continues when the unaffected eye is covered.

In cases of monocular double vision, the two images are often only slightly separated. This is sometimes referred to as "ghosting".

Double vision in both eyes

Double vision in both eyes is known as binocular double vision. It happens when both eyes fail to work together properly. If you have binocular double vision, your vision will usually return to normal if either eye is covered.

Physiological double vision

You may experience physiological double vision when objects in your background field of vision, which you are not specifically focusing on, appear double.

Your brain usually compensates for this type of double vision and it often goes unnoticed. However, children who complain of having double vision sometimes have physiological double vision.

Page last reviewed: 07/01/2013

Next review due: 07/01/2015

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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Orthoptist said on 14 January 2013

Advice for "Stone Mountain "You should ask your GP to refer you to the Orthoptist at your local Eye Clinic. The Orthoptist specialises in treating double vision.

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Stone Mountain said on 06 January 2013

I have had double vision for as long as I can remember, as well as wearing glasses. I have been told I have astigmatism and have prism in one lense of my glasses. The double vision has been more noticible since starting university. My optician says he can do nothing more. Should I speak to my GP?

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