Double Vision vs. Myopia: How To Tell The Difference

Today you’re going to learn the difference between double vision vs. myopia (also known as nearsightedness).

Some of you may wonder if myopia is just a more severe type of double vision. After all, if you are myopic, your vision may be similar to the vision of someone with diplopia (also called double vision). Only instead of it being just two overlapping images, it’s more like 50, causing what seems to be just a blurry image in general.

In this article, we’ll go over causes, symptoms, treatment, and common questions around these two conditions. So whether you’re worried about your eyesight or just want to learn more, we hope you find your answers in this post.

What Is Diplopia?

Double vision (also known as diplopia) is when you’re seeing the same image twice. It may look like there are two separate things side by side or a little on top of each other, but in reality, it’s only one image. Diplopia symptoms also include the secondary image (the one that is not real) having a ghosting effect to it.

double vision

Double vision is an indication that your eyes are not working together properly. It’s usually a temporary thing, but it can be a symptom of more serious health problems. Here’s the deal:

Top Causes of Double Vision

Temporary double vision can happen if, for example, you drink too much, or are extremely tired. This type of short-term sudden double vision is usually nothing to worry about and will go away naturally. Constant double vision is what you should worry about.

Now, to understand the more serious conditions that may be causing double vision, we need to divide it into two types. This is because double vision can occur in one or both eyes. Double vision in both eyes has completely different causes than double vision in one eye. Here’s the deal:

Causes of Double Vision in One Eye

Monocular diplopia is when you see double even when covering one eye. It could be caused by:

  • Irregular shape of the cornea (front part of your eye). The cornea is responsible for focusing incoming light into your eye. An irregular cornea distorts light incorrectly, which can cause double vision. This is also what causes astigmatism.
  • Dry eyes. There’s a higher chance of seeing double if your eye is not able to produce enough tears. Some people that suffer from dry eyes when they wake up, also notice double vision in the morning.
  • Cataracts, which is when the lens inside your eye gets cloudy due to age. Cataracts is the leading cause of blindness.

Double Vision in Both Eyes

As opposed to double vision in one eye, binocular diplopia is when you have double vision with both eyes open.

The most common cause of binocular diplopia is a problem with the alignment of your eyes. When your vision functions properly, both eyes take in information. Your brain then combines that information to create a single clear image.

When the visual system isn’t functioning properly the brain can’t combine the signals from both eyes into a single image. This causes you to see things twice, usually overlapping.

The causes for eye misalignment include strabismus (crossed eyes), eye muscle problems, nerve problems, and neurological conditions that affect the nerves of your eyes.

strabismus
Different types of strabismus

Any health problem that affects the eye muscles also impacts the way the eyes move around together and coordinate with each other — causing eye alignment issues.

Nearsightedness Explained

Now that you know about diplopia, let’s quickly go over what is nearsightedness so we can better understand the differences between double vision vs. myopia.

If you have myopia you can see close objects sharply, but your distance vision appears blurry. This happens because a person with myopia has an eyeball longer than normal, making the focal point of light fall short of the retina.

The retina is located in the back of your eye and is responsible for translating light into an image that the brain can read. For clear sharp vision, the focal point of light needs to fall exactly on the retina.

nearsightedness explained

Myopia symptoms include blurry vision when looking at distant objects, needing to squint your eyes to see clearly, headaches caused by eye strain, and difficulty seeing at night.

But what makes you nearsighted? The two causes of myopia are believed to be genetic factors and not enough time spent outdoors in childhood.

Can Myopia Cause Double Vision?

No. Myopia and double vision are two completely different things and are not related.

However, a person with myopia can also have double vision, and vice-versa.

Also, myopia that is not corrected properly can cause your vision to have the ghosting image appearance associated with double vision.

Sometimes the blur from myopia makes it seem like images are doubled. Because of this, people may describe it as double vision, but in fact, it’s not.

Treatment of Double Vision vs. Myopia

The differences between these two conditions are even more noticeable in their treatment options. Let’s start with how do you fix double vision:

Double Vision Treatment

How your double vision is treated depends a lot on what’s causing it. The only way to know for sure is to talk to an eye doctor. With that in mind, here are some possible treatment solutions for diplopia:

  • Corrective lenses: You can get an eye prescription with prisms, which are designed to improve eye alignment issues.
  • Vision therapy: Double vision can be reduced with exercises that strengthen the eye muscles.
  • Surgery: For example, people who have cataracts will eventually need surgery. The procedure would treat, not only cataracts but also double vision.
  • Diabetes treatment: Diabetes is among the double vision causes, because it disrupts the blood supply to the nerves involved in supporting functions of the eyes. The diplopia that results from that can be cured as soon as the blood sugar levels are managed.
  • Binocular double vision is sometimes caused by serious health problems like head trauma, aneurysms, stroke, and other neurologic conditions. The treatment for these conditions is very specific, and would probably fix diplopia as well.

Myopia Treatment

On the other hand, myopia is much more simple to diagnose and correct. To correct myopia you can wear glasses, contact lenses, or undergo eye surgery (like LASIK or PRK).

Related: “How to Stop Myopia Progression: The 7 Options Available Today”

Corrective lenses like glasses and contact lenses for myopia are concave. This means they will move the focal point of light further to the retina, making vision sharp.

Surgery options for myopia generally involve reshaping the cornea to a more flat shape to achieve the same goal of moving the focus of light further back.

The Bottom Line on Double Vision vs. Myopia

In this article, we went over what are the differences between myopia and double vision.

Double vision that comes and goes is generally nothing to worry about. However, regular double vision may have some serious underlying health conditions.

On the other hand, myopia is caused by an eyeball that is longer than normal. It is much easier to diagnose and correct than double vision.

Talk to your eye doctor right away if you notice changes in your vision or something doesn’t feel right. It’s the only way to determine the root cause of your double vision.

Feel free to leave any questions you have below in the comment section. We will get back to you as soon as possible!

Hugo Moreira

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My passion for promoting eye health in communities around the world fuels me to create content that is factually reviewed not only by the most up-to-date scientific research but also by everyday expertise from my personal experience with being nearsighted since I was a child.