Double Vision vs. Ghosty Image

True double vision is usually a binocular issue. Meaning both eyes must be open to see the double image; close one eye and the double image disappears. Diplopia can be either vertical or horizontal. Sudden onset of true double vision (diplopia) is a medical emergency. It could indicate stroke or some other neurological condition. Diabetes is another potential cause of sudden onset double vision.

A gradual onset of double vision may also be a sign of a serious medical condition (tumor, aneurism ) or it can be worsening of a long-standing high phoria, and sometime it can be artificially induce from something as simple as a “stye”.   Take no chances… CALL THE EYE DOCTOR !!!

A “ ghosty image “ is much more common and is what a lot of people think is double vision.

Take a close look at the image above. Note how there is a faint “ghosty” image of each letter. This ghosty image does NOT go away when one eye is closed.

Common causes of “ghosty images” are dirty or filmy glasses or  dirty or bad contact lenses. An incorrect prescription or change in prescription. CATARACTS. Sometimes early macular degeneration.  Tear layer disorders or corneal conditions can also cause “ghosty images”.

Try blinking and watching if the ghosty image changes. If it does it usually means the cause is external (outside the eye) most likely the surface of the eye. It it doesn’t change it could be your eyeglasses or internal issues (inside the eye).

An eye doctor can help determine the cause  and any health-realated issues that may be associated with the condition.


For our Dr Lee Eye Center patients, when you call for an appointment, please tell us if your symptoms have been gradual or sudden onset. And as always, you can also email your medical concerns directly Dr. Lee (if urgent, calling our office may be faster and if an after-hours emergency…  go to the hospital ER).