Joel Hunter, MD Refractive Surgeon, Hunter Vision Updated 08/22/19 6:16 PM
As much as I’d like to give a hopeful and life-changing answer to this question, I can’t. LASIK can’t fix anything wrong with vision that is unrelated to the prescription. True double vision is caused by a failure of the eyes to look at exactly the same place at the same time. It is an issue with the muscles that move the eyes around, or the nerves that tell them where to move.
The accessory features to your vision (movement, blinking, tearing, etc...) can affect the vision just as much or more than refractive error. Refractive error just makes things blurry. But compare that to something like Bell’s palsy, where a lid won’t blink, and it’s easy to see why vision depends on everything member of the Eye Team working well. Movement — eye muscles working together in perfect coordination — is an essential part of that team.
Like any other part of the human body, there is a specific way that it works correctly and then a long list of errors that can cause it to stop working. The six muscles that insert onto the outer wall of your eyeball have to stay completely in sync with each other. If there’s even a slight degree of mismatch, then double vision can result. As someone who has never gained the ability to throw a football with a spiral, it really helps me appreciate that eye muscle coordination is automatic and rarely malfunctions.
When there is a malfunction in eye movement, it usually has one of three main causes:
• The first is when one of the eye muscles is too short or too long — this usually causes double vision at birth.
• Secondly, a nerve to one of those muscles fails — this usually causes double vision with the onset of disease or age.
• The third category is found in the brain. If the brain is having trouble finding a way to fuse an image for the right and left eye, double vision can be the result. That’s most of the reason for the “I’m seeing double” stage of being drunk.
That last version of double vision is the one area where LASIK may be able to help. Not really with the drinking version of it, for that issue the solution is just to drink less. But when people that have blurry vision in one or both eyes, that alone can cause double vision sometimes. The easiest way to know if you’ve got this problem is contact lenses. If you don’t have double vision with contact lenses, then LASIK will almost certainly help you if you’re a good candidate otherwise.
LASIK can’t fix double vision, but it sure as the dickens can fix blur. If you’re wondering if you’ve got a problem with double vision that causes blur, or blur that causes double vision then contact lenses are the answer. If contact lenses fix your problem, you may be in luck when it comes to LASIK. If you’ve got double vision that can only be cured with glasses with prism in them, then LASIK can fix your blur. The aggravating thing is it doesn’t help much because it won’t fix the double vision.
Author: Joel Hunter, MD is an Ophthalmologist, Refractive Surgeon, and the Founder of Hunter Vision, a LASIK Orlando Clinic in Florida. A recognized and respected specialist in vision correction who has performed a countless number of refractive surgeries, Joel gives lectures across the country and trains fellow doctors in the newest LASIK surgery techniques.