What causes distorted or ghosted vision and what should I do about it?

Symptom Database

Distorted or ghosted vision can be a concerning and frustrating experience. It refers to a visual impairment where objects appear blurred, doubled, or distorted. This condition can significantly impact one’s daily life, making it difficult to perform tasks that require clear vision. Understanding the causes of distorted or ghosted vision and knowing what steps to take can help alleviate this problem and improve overall visual health.

Causes of Distorted or Ghosted Vision

Distorted or ghosted vision can be caused by various factors, ranging from temporary issues to more serious underlying conditions. Some common causes include:

1. Refractive Errors

Refractive errors, such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism, can lead to distorted or ghosted vision. These errors occur when the shape of the eye prevents light from focusing directly on the retina, resulting in blurred or distorted images.

2. Eye Fatigue

Extended periods of reading, using digital devices, or focusing on nearby objects can strain the eyes and cause temporary visual disturbances. Eye fatigue can lead to blurred or ghosted vision, as well as headaches and eye discomfort.

3. Dry Eyes

Dry eyes occur when the eyes do not produce enough tears or when the tears evaporate too quickly. This condition can cause blurred or distorted vision, along with a gritty or burning sensation in the eyes.

4. Eye Infections

Infections, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye) or keratitis, can cause visual disturbances, including blurred or ghosted vision. These infections often result in redness, itching, and discharge from the eyes.

5. Cataracts

Cataracts are a common age-related condition where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, leading to blurred or distorted vision. This condition can progress slowly over time, causing increasing visual impairment.

6. Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that affects the central part of the retina, called the macula. It can cause blurred or distorted vision, as well as a loss of central vision. Macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults.

What Should I Do About It?

If you are experiencing distorted or ghosted vision, it is important to take appropriate steps to address the issue. Here are some tips to consider:

1. Visit an Eye Care Professional

If you are experiencing persistent or worsening visual disturbances, it is crucial to schedule an appointment with an eye care professional. They can perform a comprehensive eye examination to determine the underlying cause of your vision problems and recommend appropriate treatment.

2. Wear Corrective Eyewear

If refractive errors are causing your distorted or ghosted vision, wearing corrective eyewear, such as glasses or contact lenses, can help improve your visual acuity. An eye care professional can prescribe the appropriate lenses based on your specific needs.

3. Take Breaks and Practice Eye Exercises

If eye fatigue is the culprit behind your visual disturbances, taking regular breaks from activities that strain your eyes, such as reading or using digital devices, can provide relief. Additionally, practicing eye exercises, such as focusing on distant objects or blinking frequently, can help relax the eye muscles and reduce strain.

4. Use Artificial Tears

If dry eyes are causing your blurred or distorted vision, using artificial tears can help lubricate the eyes and alleviate symptoms. These over-the-counter eye drops can provide temporary relief, but it is important to consult with an eye care professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

5. Treat Underlying Conditions

If your distorted or ghosted vision is caused by an underlying condition, such as an eye infection, cataracts, or macular degeneration, it is essential to follow the recommended treatment plan provided by your eye care professional. This may involve medications, surgery, or other interventions to address the specific condition.

6. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can contribute to overall eye health and potentially reduce the risk of visual disturbances. This includes eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays with sunglasses, and avoiding smoking, which can increase the risk of certain eye conditions.


Distorted or ghosted vision can be a distressing symptom that affects many individuals. By understanding the causes of this visual impairment and taking appropriate steps, such as visiting an eye care professional, wearing corrective eyewear, practicing eye exercises, and treating underlying conditions, it is possible to alleviate these symptoms and improve overall visual health. Remember to prioritize your eye health and seek professional guidance for any persistent or worsening visual disturbances.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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