Double Vision

I’m not too sure which is worse, double vision, drop-foot or squiffy balance.  At the moment the double vision wins hands down, ruins my quality of life. I had double vision this afternoon,  walked to the supermarket with my rollator, and I had to do everything with one eye shut all the time. I have to peer at things, I must have looked most odd.

I’ve had this problem off and on for years. I went to the doctor complaining about double vision in 1994, that lead to my diagnosis of MS. These days when I have it my reaction time much slower.

What causes my double vision

Double vision

Double vision

The double vision usually strikes when I’m tired or continually looking at some thing that is not close. There are times when I have double vision for no particular reason then my vision returns to normal within a couple of hours.  The worst thing for me to do is watch a rugby match or concentrate on something that is small and in the distance. I can see it but unable to describe what I am seeing. If I make myself switch between looking at what I want to watch and something very close then it eases the double vision and the eyes don’t ache.

For close-up work the prisms in my reading glasses work wonders, no double vision – that is always a big relief.

Technical bit

The medical term for double vision is Diplopia. It is usually caused by lesions in the brain-stem where the cranial nerves serving the eye muscles arise. This disturbs vision by producing images in double. It may also cause loss of balance because spatial orientation is disturbed.

If someone holds up a finger about 50 centimetres in front of me and slowly moves it from side to side and tells me to follow it with my eyes then something very odd happens. The movement is only followed by one eye the other one looks straight ahead. That’s one reason I’m not allowed to drive, the other is poor peripheral vision.

Diplopia is one of the reasons why I have bad balance. Also there is the the problem that I do not always know where are feet are in relation to the rest of my body.


There is no cure for my double vision as far as I know. My optician has put prisms into the glasses, reduces double vision and makes looking at things easier. I am resigned to double vision affecting me, at least  I know what aggravates it. Watching films with subtitles is a no-no. I squint through one eye trying to read the words, completely miss the action on the screen, lose the plot so I fall asleep.

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3 responses to “Double Vision”

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  2. Heather Berniker says:

    Patrick – I found this article of particular interest. Over the past several months, I have been increasingly experiencing double-vision. It doesn’t last too long, but I have to put one hand over one eye and just rest for a while, taking care to walk very slowly in case I topple over. I have often wondered whether the large size of my computer screen and intense staring (particularly with a computer game) contributes to this. Of course, I am about 6 months past getting my eyes tested, but can’t afford new glasses just now. At least now I know the official name – Diplopia. I’ll mention this at my next medical check-up. Thanks for the information.

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