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What causes double vision?

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Quick Answer

Some causes of double vision, medically known as diplopia, are dry eye, corneal infection or scars, injuries, cataracts and benign or malignant tumors. Another cause of double vision is weak eye muscles, which may be the result of illnesses, such as myasthenia gravis or Graves' disease. Multiple sclerosis and diabetes can also cause double vision, because they affect the nerves that control the eyes.

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Double vision may be caused by bleeding or blood clots in the brain, and cranial pressure can also cause the condition. People who suffer from migraine headaches sometimes experience double vision, as do people who are drunk or on opioids, such as heroin. Certain types of antibiotics can also lead to double vision. A badly-done botulism treatment can paralyze nerves that control the eye muscles. People who suffer from Lyme disease can also have diplopia.

Double vision can manifest as two images merging horizontally, vertically or diagonally. The images can even seem to swirl around each other.

Because there are so many causes of double vision, there are several ways to treat it. Often, double vision can be resolved if the underlying disease, such as diabetes, is kept under control. If the condition is caused by a weak eye muscle, the condition can be improved by surgery.

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