What Is Ghost Vision? [Learn the Cause of Double Vision]

ghost image eye vision

Ghost vision occurs when a shadowy image overlaps with the primary object that you’reastigmatism ghost images looking at. It comes in two types — monocular when it only affects one eye and binocular when it affects both eyes. Monocular ghost vision is usually caused by dry eyes or astigmatism but a more serious condition may be present if both eyes are affected. You should always seek medical attention if you notice a sudden change in your vision.

What Is Ghost Vision?

Ghost vision is the phenomenon of a shadow or a “ghost image” overlapping with the actual object that you are looking at. It can affect only one eye or both eyes resulting in a type of double vision. It creates a shadow that overlaps with the primary image that you are looking at. This secondary image appears almost ghost-like, earning the nickname “ghost vision.”

Ghost vision that only affects one eye is known as monocular double vision or monocular diplopia. You can test to see if you have this type of double vision by alternating closing your left eye and your right eye. Whichever eye is open when you see visual disturbances lets you know which eye is experiencing double vision.

Binocular diplopia occurs when ghost images appear when you have both eyes open. Since it affects both eyes, this condition results in two sets of ghost images overlapping the primary image. In this case, the only way to remove the ghost images from your field of vision is by closing or covering one or both eyes. 

What Causes Ghost Vision?

Ghost vision can have different causes depending on the type that you have. For example, monocular double vision is usually caused by dry eye syndrome with refractive errors being another common cause. Binocular double vision is the result of misaligned eyes. This can cause the images you see to be off, resulting in ghost images.

Monocular Double Vision

Common causes of monocular double vision include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Astigmatism

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes occur when your eyes don’t make enough natural tears or make poor quality tears. Tears are very important to the health of your eyes since they help keep them lubricated and comfortable. However, you don’t need to cry in order to achieve this! Your eyes are lubricated every time you blink, keeping the eye’s surface clear and smooth.

Dry eyes can occur for a number of reasons, but it’s usually due to a problem with a layer in the tear film, which is comprised of:

  • An oily layer
  • A watery layer
  • A mucus layer

Dry eyes can often be treated with over-the-counter artificial tears. Talk to our ophthalmologists for brand suggestions and other tips for maintaining a healthy tear film.

Click here to learn more about how dry eye syndrome is diagnosed and treated!


Astigmatism is a common refractive disorder that affects the shape of your eye. Most eyes are shaped similarly to a basketball, but astigmatism is caused by a more football shape to the eye. This affects the curve and shape of your cornea or lens and causes light to be refracted (bent) improperly, resulting in vision problems such as ghost vision.

Astigmatism can be easily treated with corrective eyewear. Prescription eyeglasses and more rigid contact lenses used to be the only treatments available. Now softer contact lenses are available to treat the problem. Similarly, LASIK could not previously be used to treat astigmatism, but new advances have improved most cases.

To learn how LASIK surgery changed one man’s life, click here!

Binocular Double Visionghosting vision in one eye

Common causes of binocular double vision include:

  • Grave’s ophthalmopathy
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Cranial Nerve Palsies

Grave’s Ophthalmopathy

Around 30% of people with Grave’s disease will develop Grave’s ophthalmopathy. This aspect of the disease causes inflammation and other problems with your immune system which affects the muscles and tissue around your eyes.

Along with ghost vision, those with Grave’s ophthalmopathy may experience:

  • Bulging eyes
  • Eyes that feel gritty
  • Pain or pressure in the eyes
  • Retracted or puffy eyelids
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Vision loss

Mild forms of Grave’s ophthalmopathy may be treatable with over-the-counter artificial tears and lubricating gels. More advanced cases may require medication, prism glasses, surgery, and radiotherapy.

Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disorder that causes antibodies to attack and destroy communication between nerves and muscle. This results in weakened skeletal and voluntary muscles, especially those that control your:

  • Eyes
  • Mouth
  • Throat
  • Limbs

Treatment for myasthenia gravis can vary depending on factors such as your age, medical history, the severity of your condition, and your ability to handle specific treatments. There is currently no cure, but your symptoms can be controlled with medication, surgery, and other forms of treatment.

When To See a Doctor

You should schedule an appointment with your eye doctor whenever you experience changes in your vision. In some cases, all you may need is an updated prescription. However, changes in your vision may be a sign of a more serious condition that requires immediate treatment. By seeking treatment early, you can prevent symptoms from getting worse.

Monocular double vision is more common than binocular double vision. It also tends to be less serious, being treatable with stronger eyewear prescriptions and other non-invasive means. Binocular double vision, on the other hand, may indicate a more serious underlying issue. Your eye doctor will be able to diagnose the problem and provide treatment to protect your vision. 

Have you experienced a sudden onset of double vision? If so, please contact us today to schedule your appointment!

A second shadow image of an object in your field of vision is known as “ghost vision.” It can affect one eye or both eyes with the latter possibly indicating a serious underlying condition. Monocular ghost vision is often a result of astigmatism or dry eye syndrome. Binocular ghost vision may indicate a serious issue such as Grave’s ophthalmopathy or myasthenia gravis. Be sure to seek medical attention to sudden changes in your vision to receive the care that you need.

Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice in Knoxville, TN, and Morristown, TN. Give us a call at 865-579-3920 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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