Ocular Motor Nerve Disorders: Double Vision

Patients with double vision see two of everything that they look at. The images may be distinctly separated from each other, or they may overlap each other. The two images could be side-by-side to each other, one-on-top of the other, or a combination. Double vision may occur or worsening during certain situations such as looking far away, looking up close, or in a particular direction. For some patients, the double vision may be constant or fluctuate throughout the day.

If the double vision is present whether you look through one eye or the other, the underlying cause is the one eye itself (i.e. the need for glasses, cataract changes, or changes in the cornea or retina). If the double vision is present with both eyes open, but goes away when looking with either eye alone, the two eyes are misaligned relative to each other resulting in double vision.

Each eye has six different eye muscles that allow the eyes to look in various directions and remain aligned with each other. Double vision could be the result of changes in the eye muscles themselves or an injury to the nerves/brain that signal to the eye muscles. In cases where both eye muscle and the nerves/brain are functioning normally, there could be a disruption in the communication between the eye muscles and nerves preventing the muscles from working appropriately.

An examination of your eye movements and possible additional testing including blood work or imaging with a CT and MRI will allow us to help determine the cause of the double vision. Depending on the underlying cause, observation, covering one eye, special prisms glasses to align the eyes, medications, or eye muscle surgery may be recommended.