Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What causes double vision?"
What causes double vision? In the mornings, I sometimes wake up with it. It's like I just can't get my eyes to line up or focus. Otherwise my vision is great, but it's always alarming when this happens. Am I doing something wrong? Is it harming my eyes?
Double vision, also known as diplopia happens whenever the two eyes do not focus together on an object. It can be a distressing symptom, especially when it comes back again and again. There are multiple different causes and I'll review a few of them below. You should get evaluated first by your primary care physician who can rule in or rule out some of the more common and dangerous causes and can refer to you to an ophthalmologist if necessary. Diplopia can be caused by fatigue, alcohol, some of the anti-epileptic drugs, and some sleeping medicines. If you are taking either of these classes of drugs, you should need to let your doctor know that you could be having a side effect. Diplopia can also be a sign of multiple sclerosis, Guillain Barre Syndrome or Myosthenia Gravis. These are neuromuscular disorders that can also effect the eye muscles. The question of whether it is harming your eyes depends on your age. If you were a child (which I'm assuming you're not), then diplopia can result in the brain ignoring the deviant eye to the point where it is no longer effectively connected to the brain. This is treated with an eye patch over the good eye for a short time to force the brain to use the deviating eye. I suggest seeing your primary care physician soon because eventually you need to rule out the dangerous conditions that can manifest as diplopia. Good luck.
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