Why does double vision when drinking happen?

Why do you see double sometimes when you're drunk? Its weird because it seems to happen more when you try to focus.

  • Try to look at something when you're drinking and it barely seems to double up
  • Try to focus on it more than just immediately, and slowly the image seems to separate
  • Refocusing on new object seems to re-focus and lets you not see double

Why does this happen?

Edit: This seems to imply an inability to focus, however, if I try to refocus on a new object it works out

Double Vision: Symptoms & Signs

Double vision, or "seeing double," occurs when two nonmatching images are sent to the part of the brain that is responsible for processing visual input. If this occurs over the long term, the brain will eventually compensate for the two signals by suppressing one signal, so that a single image is perceived. The suppressed eye may eventually become amblyopic ("lazy eye") with resultant vision loss.

Double vision can result from impairment in any part of the vision system, including the cornea, eye muscles, lens, nerves, or the brain. The most common cause of diplopia is misalignment of the two eyes that can arise from several different conditions. Some diseases such as myasthenia gravis and Graves' disease can cause weakness of the eye muscles, leading to misalignment of the eyes and double vision. Poorly controlled diabetes can ultimately result in nerve damage that can manifest as diplopia, and diplopia can arise as a result of stroke, head injury, or other brain damage. While diplopia can be a symptom of the conditions listed below, it is not always present in these conditions.

Related Symptoms & Signs

Other causes of double vision

  • Convergence Insufficiency
  • Increased Intracranial Pressure
  • Infection of the Cornea
  • Medication Side Effects
  • Rare Complication of Surgery Such as LASIK

Symptom checker

Health concerns on your mind?
Click here to visit our Symptom Checker.

Main Article on Double Vision

Why am I seeing double?

Double vision occurs when a person sees a double image where there should only be one. The two images can be side by side, on top of one another, or both.

The condition can affect balance, movement, and reading ability.

If double vision affects just one eye, it is monocular. If it affects both eyes, it is binocular. Treatments depend on the cause and type, but they include eye exercises, specially designed glasses, and surgery.

This article will look at the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of double vision.

Share on Pinterest double vision blurred hand crop

Nerve or muscle damage in the eye might cause double vision.

Each eye creates its own image of the environment. The brain combines the representations from each eye and perceives them as one clear picture.

Damage to the muscles that move the eyes or the nerves that control eye movement can create a double image.

The eyes must work together to create depth of field.

Certain illnesses can weaken the muscles moving the eyes and produce double vision.

Causes of binocular double vision

A common cause of binocular double vision is a squint or strabismus.

This occurs when the eyes are not properly aligned. Strabismus is relatively common in children. However, the condition does not always result in double vision.

Strabismus causes the eyes to look in slightly different directions. This might be because the affected eye muscles have the following difficulties:

  • They are paralyzed or weak.
  • They have restricted movement.
  • They are too strong or overactive.
  • The nerves controlling the eyes muscles have abnormalities.

Sometimes, a squint can return later in life for people who had a squint as a child. In some cases, the treatment of a squint can actually cause double vision, despite the individual’s vision being normal before the squint was treated.

This is because the brain had been suppressing signals from one of the eyes in an attempt to maintain normal vision.

Other conditions can cause double vision include:

  • Thyroid dysfunction: The thyroid gland is in the neck and produces a hormone called thyroxine. Changes in thyroid function can affect the external muscles that control the eye. This includes Grave’s ophthalmopathy, in which the eyes can appear to protrude because fat and tissue build up behind the eye.
  • Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA): In a stroke, blood fails to reach the brain due to an obstruction in the blood vessels. This can affect the blood vessels supplying the brain or nerves controlling the eye muscles and cause double vision.
  • Aneurysm: An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel. This can press on the nerve of the eye muscle.
  • Convergence insufficiency: In this condition, the eyes do not work together correctly. The cause is unknown, but it is thought to be due to the muscles that control the eye not lining up correctly.
  • Diabetes: This can affect the blood vessels that supply the retina at the back of the eye. It can also affect the nerves that control eye muscle movements.
  • Myasthenia gravis: This can cause weakness in the muscles, including those that control the eyes.
  • Brain tumors and cancers: A tumor or growth behind the eye can interfere with free movement or damage the optic nerve.
  • Multiple sclerosis: MS is a disease that affects the central nervous system, including the nerves in the eyes.
  • Black eye: An injury can cause blood and fluid to collect around the eye. This can put pressure on the eye itself or the muscles and nerves around it.
  • Head injury: Physical damage to the brain, nerves, muscles, or eye socket can restrict the movement of the eye and its muscles.

Causes of monocular double vision

If double vision is noted when one eye is covered but not the other, this is referred to as monocular double vision.

Share on Pinterest Cataracts are a possible cause of double vision.

Monocular double vision is less common than binocular double vision. The following conditions can cause monocular double vision and can be caused by the following conditions:

  • Astigmatism: The cornea, or the transparent layer at the front of the eye, is irregularly shaped. With astigmatism, the cornea has two curves on the surface similar to a football instead of being perfectly round like a basketball.
  • Dry eye: The eye does not produce enough tears, or it dries out too quickly.
  • Keratoconus: This is a degenerative condition of the eye that causes the cornea to become thin and cone-shaped.
  • Retinal abnormalities: In macular degeneration, for example, the center of an individual’s field of vision slowly disappears, and sometimes there is swelling which can cause double vision in one eye.
  • Cataracts: Cataracts occur in more than half of all people in the United States over the age of 80 years and can sometimes cause double vision in one eye.

Temporary double vision

Double vision can sometimes be temporary. Alcohol intoxication, benzodiazepines, opioids, or certain medications for seizures and epilepsy sometimes cause this. Head injuries, such as concussions, can also cause temporary double vision.

Being particularly tired or having strained eyes can bring on temporary double vision. If normal vision does not return quickly, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Double Vision (Diplopia)

Double vision is the perception of two images of a single object seen adjacent to each other (horizontally, vertically, or obliquely) or overlapping. Diplopia is the medical term for double vision. Polyplopia is the perception of three or more images of a single object overlapping each other.

Double vision is called "monocular" when the double image is perceived by an eye that is tested alone. In "binocular" double vision, each eye sees a single image when tested alone, but a double image is present when both eyes are open.

What causes double vision?

There are dozens of causes of double vision, ranging from benign to life-threatening. Therefore, it is important for the doctor to carefully review the history and perform an examination to determine the cause and initiate appropriate treatment when necessary. Sometimes, emergency treatment is needed.

Most causes of monocular diplopia stem from poor focusing of light by the eye. Refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism) are causes. Dry eye (from a variety of causes such as meibomitis, Sjögren's syndrome, and decreased tear production following refractive surgery) can produce diplopia that varies with blinking. Cataracts (clouding of the natural lens) and posterior capsule opacification (which can occur after cataract surgery) are common in people over 60 years of age and can produce diplopia along with other vision problems. Other conditions that interfere with proper focusing of light include corneal irregularity from keratoconus, swelling or scars, and retinal conditions such as epiretinal membranes. Rarely is the underlying cause a medical emergency in cases of monocular diplopia.

Binocular diplopia on the other hand is produced by a misalignment of the two eyes, which in some instances can be caused by life-threatening conditions. For example, aneurysms, strokes, trauma (head injury), and increased intracranial pressure (for example, from a growth or mass such as a brain tumor) can cause eye misalignment by affecting the nerves that control eye movement and alignment. . These nerves control the extraocular muscles that move the eyes in different direction of gaze. If these nerves lose blood supply or are compressed, the muscles they control become weak or paralyzed. This is called a cranial nerve palsy.

Other diseases affecting the nervous system can lead to binocular double vision. In multiple sclerosis, nervous system inflammatory lesions that affect various parts of the visual system may result in double vision that varies over time. Guillain-Barré syndrome can also produce double vision from nerve damage. Migraine headaches can cause a sudden but temporary strabismus (eye misalignment). In myasthenia gravis, the communication between the nerves and the eye muscles is abnormal, resulting in diplopia that varies by the time of day, typically worsening with fatigue.

Binocular double vision can also occur with damage to the eye muscles themselves. Graves' disease (often associated with thyroid disease), orbital inflammations, vascular disease (as seen with diabetes and high blood pressure), and others are examples of diseases that directly affect the extraocular muscles through compression, poor blood supply, or local eye inflammation. Eye movement and alignment can also be abnormal if muscles and orbital tissue become trapped in a skull bone fracture from trauma, leading to restriction of eye movement in certain directions of gaze.

Childhood strabismus (eye misalignment), such as crossed eyes (esotropia) or out-turned eyes (exotropia), occasionally produces double vision, and often children develop ways to suppress the double vision. However, this suppression may result in amblyopia (a weakening of the eye's visual development). For this reason, children whose eyes appear misaligned should be evaluated by an eye doctor for treatment that may range from glasses, vision therapy, and patching to surgery.

Sometimes the cause of binocular double vision is relatively harmless, such as when fatigue or illness results in a temporary misalignment of the eyes. This is called a phoria, which is a variable, intermittent type of strabismus (eye misalignment). Another fatigue-related misalignment is convergence insufficiency, which is the inability to keep the eyes converged (slightly crossed) for long periods while reading. This can often be alleviated with eye exercises ("pencil pushups" vision therapy) or prism glasses.

Double Vision Symptoms

Double vision, or "seeing double," occurs when two nonmatching images are sent to the part of the brain that is responsible for processing visual input. If this occurs over the long term, the brain will eventually compensate for the two signals by suppressing one signal, so that a single image is perceived.

What happens to your eyes when you stop drinking alcohol

BRITS taking part in Dry January this year will reap more than just the financial benefits. Health experts at Optical Express have revealed how staying off the booze in the new year can greatly impact eye health.

Last year alone, Dry January saw 1 in 6 (16%) Brits attempt to ditch the drink* to help combat the effects of an over indulgent festive period. Although it’s no secret that drinking to excess puts the body under strain and can lead to serious health implications, many are unaware their eyes could be at risk.

Binge drinking can cause a number of problems with eye health, including symptoms associated with Dry Eye. These include swollen blood vessels in the eyes which can give a bloodshot look, itchiness, irritation and fluctuation in vision. Associated swelling or inflammation can also cause a twitching of the eyelid and an increased sensitivity to light. Although these are only minor issues, long term alcohol abuse can actually permanently damage the optic nerves, which are responsible for sending visual information from the eyes to the brain.

Stephen Hannan, Clinical Services Director at Optical Express, supports cutting down alcohol consumption in the new year to encourage better eye health, stating: “As well as the more commonly known pros of Dry January i.e. weight loss, better sleep and saving money, there are a whole host of benefits to your eyes and overall eye health.

“Cutting out alcohol as part of Dry January will allow your body to reverse and put the brakes on many of the short and long-term effects of drinking. For example, after just 24 hours of no alcohol, your blood sugar levels will normalise and blurred vision caused by alcohol intake will disappear.

“The longer you abstain you may also notice your eyes become brighter and whiter, as your body counteracts damage/yellowing of the sclera – the white part of your eye. Plus, your circulation will be improved meaning your eyes receive oxygen and nutrients to prevent disease and damage, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.”

“We recommend any person concerned about their vision or any eye symptom undergo an eye examination at their earliest opportunity.”

Seeing Double? Get Your Vision Checked Promptly

Double vision isn’t something to ignore. While typically temporary, it may signal a serious problem, such as a brain aneurysm or stroke.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

“Some people get fleeting double vision that goes away,” says neuro-ophthalmologist Lisa Lystad, MD. “But if double vision stays with you for a couple of hours, call your primary care physician or eye doctor, or go to the ER.”

Your doctor can determine what type of double vision (diplopia) you have and what’s causing it before determining the best way to treat it. “Fortunately, while double vision can be frightening, it is treatable,” she says.

When you have double vision, you get two images when you look at a single object. The images may appear one on top of the other or side-by-side (or both ways).

Double vision can be either monocular or binocular.

Monocular double vision

Monocular double vision affects one eye, and the problem originates in the eye itself.

“It is seen using only one eye at a time,” says Dr. Lystad. “If you have double vision in the right eye and cover your left eye, you still see double.”

The problem originates in the eye itself. Many eye-related issues — including the need for glasses (for astigmatism, for instance), dry eyes, cataracts, and retinal disease in the macula — can cause monocular double vision.

“Double vision in one eye is caused by an eyeball problem, not a neurologic or brain problem,” she notes.

Binocular double vision

In binocular double vision, the eyes are not visually aligned. Both the images you see are clear. If you cover either eye, the double vision always goes away.

Binocular double vision can stem from a wide variety of problems, some of them originating in the brain, which may be quite serious.

Whether double vision affects one or both eyes, ophthalmologists must search for the root cause, which can be a problem with the brain, the nerves, the muscles or the lens.

A problem with the brain

Tumors, trauma, aneurysms, stroke or autoimmune diseases involving the brain can cause double vision.

“Normally, your brain says to look up. It then organizes that information and sends it down nerves that connect to your eye muscles. The nerves communicate with the eye muscles to make them move, and so you look up,” says Dr. Lystad.

“A problem occurring anywhere along that pathway can cause double vision.”

Treating the underlying disease may help restore your vision. Another option involves using prism lenses to help the eyes align better.

“When someone has problems walking, you give them a cane to help with their balance,” says Dr. Lystad. “We use prisms the same way. The eye muscles still move, but prisms help stabilize the movement.”

While prism lenses don’t cure double vision, they can help you get back to everyday activities.

If prisms don’t help, Dr. Lystad recommends wearing an eye patch, but not 24/7. “We want the bad eye to actively move around for two to three hours a day, even up to 50 percent of the time,” she says.

A problem with the nerves

Diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and multiple sclerosis can damage the nerves that stimulate the eye muscles, leading to double vision.

Your doctor will focus on treating or better controlling the underlying disease. Double vision related to neurological or vascular diseases typically improves with treatment.

A problem with the muscles

When one eye muscle is weaker than the other, you can start seeing double. Thyroid disorders and myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune illness) can cause this problem.

For patients with thyroid issues, surgery can help to reposition the eye muscles. It’s important to stabilize any eye movement abnormality prior to surgery, possibly through steroid treatment or prism therapy, she notes.

A problem with the lens

A cataract (clouding of the eye’s lens) can decrease your vision and cause you to see double. Surgery to remove the cataract can help to fix the problem.

If astigmatism is the culprit, wearing special contact lenses or glasses should help, Dr. Lystad says.

Don’t hesitate to seek help

Whenever double vision persists, seek medical attention immediately, she stresses.

Then follow up with regular eye exams. Ophthalmologists recommend annual exams for those under age 18 and over age 65, and exams every two years for those in between.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

What alcohol really does to your eyesight

Most of us are well aware of the detrimental impact alcohol abuse can have on our bodies. At the less extreme end of the spectrum we understand that being even slightly intoxicated causes blurry, distorted vision, but what are the real physiological consequences to our eyes?

Alcohol does have short term vision-altering effects, but excessive consumption can lead to long term, life-changing eye conditions. Both long term alcohol abuse and short term excessive alcohol use can lead to permanent loss of vision owing to the direct effect of alcohol on the optic nerves. These are the nerves that carry the vision from the yes to the brain. Whilst it is the eyes that do the ‘looking’, it is the brain that does the ‘seeing’. Toxic amblyopia is the term used to describe permanent loss of vision and blindness caused by alcohol.

Consuming alcohol in moderation will not have any lasting negative effects on your eyes. The way your body responds to alcohol depends on the amount consumed and your tolerance threshold, but you will most likely experience some dizziness and blurry vision. These symptoms will likely stop shortly after a drinking episode if you do not consume too heavily.


If you regularly drink large volumes of alcohol, you’re at a higher risk of developing eye conditions that will alter your vision and cause permanent damage. Repeated episodes of heavy drinking puts significant strain on the liver and, just as the eye is associated with many other organs of the body, heavy drinkers will be more prone to eye conditions and declining eyesight.

Alcohol also slows the pace of communication between neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that communicate information around the brain and to the body. The delay in communication between the brain and the eyes means that they are not able to function effectively which weakens the eye muscle coordination. This is what causes distorted or double vision.

Excessive drinking also decreases the reaction time of your pupils, meaning that they are unable to constrict or dilate when reacting to ambient light levels and impairs the ability see contrasting colours or different shades of similar colours.

Other consequences of drinking too much are:

  • Sensitivity to light due to migraines
  • Red or bloodshot eyes caused by alcohol swelling the blood vessels in your eyes
  • Rapid eye movement – an involuntarily movement back and forth

You can avoid these side-effects by drinking occasionally and in moderation. Pace yourself (it is recommended to limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage per hour), never drink on an empty stomach and consume plenty of water in between alcoholic drinks in order to prevent intoxication.

Our bodies are all different, meaning our reactions to alcohol will also be extremely varied, but it’s wise to always consider the recommended units of alcohol. For men it is advised to consume no more than 4 units in one day and 21 units per week, for women the recommended limit is 3 units a day and 14 units per week. Sticking to these guidelines will help you maintain bright, healthy eyes.

Alexander Ionides BSc FRCOphth MD is a Consultant Ophthalmologist at Clinic Compare

Why does a pituitary tumor cause visual symptoms?

The pituitary gland sits in a space called the pituitary sella, which is just a few centimeters behind the eyes. In order to see normally, we rely on our eyes to send information through cables (called the optic nerves) that travel back to the brain. A large pituitary tumor can push these cables, affecting their ability to send visual information from the eyes. Sometimes a pituitary tumor affects the optic nerve on just one side. In other cases, it affects a structure known as the &ldquooptic chiasm,&rdquo where the optic nerves from each eye merge together. When a pituitary tumor pushes the optic chiasm, it causes visual loss in both eyes.

In addition to the optic nerve, which brings vision from the eye to the brain, there are also several other nerves near the pituitary gland that travel to the eyes and help them move normally. If a pituitary tumor pushes one of these nerves, it causes weakness of some of the muscles that move the eye. This problem affects the normal alignment of the eyes, and produces double vision.

University Health Service

Combining medications (prescribed or not prescribed) with alcohol can have unpredictable and unwanted consequences. We can help ourselves, our friends and our community by understanding the dangers and taking steps to prevent harm.

Depressants (Xanax, Valium) combined with alcohol have a synergistic effect, with potential for dangerous and even lethal consequences, with rapid onset of dizziness, stumbling, loss of sphincter control, memory loss and potential death.

Stimulants (e.g., Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta) combined with alcohol conceal alcohol’s effects, so people cannot gauge their level of intoxication, which can result in over-consumption, e.g. significant impairment of coordination and judgment, black out, pass out and potential death.

Prescription opiates (e.g., Vicodin, OxyContin, Tylenol 3 with codeine, Percocet) combined with alcohol can result in slowed or arrested breathing, lowered pulse and blood pressure, unconsciousness, coma, and potential death.

Note: It is illegal to misuse prescription medication, that is:

  • Continue to use medication when the prescription is no longer valid
  • Use prescribed drugs contrary to the prescription
  • Use prescription drugs not prescribed to you
  • Give or sell prescribed drugs to another person

Misusing prescription drugs can result in conviction with jail time.

  • When people do not know that there are significant drug interactions and are caught by surprise when they inadvertently drink while using prescription medication
  • When people knowingly combine alcohol with other drugs because they mistakenly believe it will be a “better” or “enriched” intoxication
  • As a tool to facilitate a crime (sexual assault, robbery, etc) by making a victim incapacitated

If you choose to drink:

  • Make your own drink whenever possible, and don’t leave your drink unattended
  • If you don’t see your drink being made, don't drink it
  • Avoid drinks that come from a common source (e.g. punch bowl, igloo container, jug)

For more information, see:

Video transcription:

Narrator: What do you get when mixing red and blue paint? How about Coca-Cola and Mentos from science class? Then there’s alcohol mixed with prescription drugs. What happens when you mix them together? How do you know what happens?

Josh's mom: I lost my son Josh Levine because he didn’t know what would happen when he mixed Adderall with alcohol. Don’t be the next one who doesn’t know what will happen. How do you know what will happen? How do you know?

Click below to see contributions from other amazing visitors to this page.

GEORGE B Not rated yet
after my cataract syrgery,both eyes, my vision was 20/30 a few months later it was 20/40 and not as sharp and clear. One night I noticed that after drinking &hellip

Vision acuity sharp after 8oz wine but reflex’s and reactinn diminishes. Not rated yet
Weird reactions to alcohol. Vision clarit enhanced reflex and response diminished.

Question about "Bloodshot eyes from drinking" photo Not rated yet
Hey, I was actually trying to research an odd eye condition I've been experiencing where I have white clumps build up and impair my vision. I came &hellip