Double Vision (Diplopia): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment (2024)

What is diplopia?

Diplopia is the medical term for double vision or seeing double. Diplopia is defined as seeing two images of a single object when you’re looking at it.

Double vision is usually a temporary issue, but it can also be a sign of more serious health conditions. Even if it’s caused by something as simple as needing new glasses, it’s important to get your eyes examined by your healthcare provider right away if you start seeing double.

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Monocular vs. binocular diplopia

Your healthcare provider will classify your double vision as either monocular (one eye) or binocular (both eyes). Monocular diplopia is present when you use only one eye at a time. It may appear as a shadow. Binocular diplopia is present when both eyes are open at the same time. It goes away if you cover one of your eyes.

Monocular diplopia is more common and usually less serious. Binocular diplopia is usually caused by your eyes being out of alignment or other, more serious underlying conditions.

Horizontal diplopia vs. vertical diplopia

If you have binocular diplopia, your double vision can appear either vertically (top to bottom) or horizontally (side to side). Which one you have depends on what’s causing your diplopia and how (or why) your eyes are out of alignment.

Who does diplopia affect?

Diplopia can affect anyone, but it’s most common in adults older than 60.

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How common is diplopia?

Experiencing some form of double vision is extremely common. More than 800,000 people a year visit their healthcare provider because of diplopia. It’s also one of the most common reasons people go to the emergency room (ER). Around 50,000 people every year go to the ER because they have double vision.

How does diplopia affect my body?

The most obvious effect diplopia has on your body is the double vision itself. In addition to the physical symptoms, it can be scary when something affects your eyesight. The good news is that almost 90% of cases of double vision are temporary and have no long-term or serious implications for your health. But diplopia can decrease your depth perception, making driving or walking more difficult.

Double Vision (Diplopia): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment (2024)
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