Can everyone unfocus their eyes

Can Everyone Unfocus Their Eyes?

Some individuals are gifted with the skill to focus and unfocus their eyes on command. This ability is a natural ‘gift’ that not everyone has.

No, not everyone can focus their eyes, and it is not the same as closer objects becoming more blurry when you look further and vice versa.

Like some people who can move their ears, people who tend to have stronger eye muscles are believed to be able to defocus their eyes without any trainer.

Some individuals can focus unfocus their eyes willingly and efficiently by drawing their eyes’ attention away from the focus. Sometimes, there is a need to focus on a specific point to read something far away.

What are the Eyes?

The eyes are members of the sensory nervous system that reacts to light and allows vision. The eyes contain muscle fibers that help detect visible light and convey this information to the brain, supporting us know the color, shape, size, and texture.

Light rays go into the eye via the cornea, pupil, and lens, and these light rays are focused on the retina (the delicate, sensitive tissue lining at the back of the eye). The retina then sends signals through the optic nerve to the brain, where this signal becomes the images we see.

The Cornea Does Most Of The Focusing

can everyone onfocus theri eyes on command

When light enters the cornea and the aqueous fluid, the bending of the light that happens is about 70%. This becomes possible as a result of the curve of the cornea, including the change in refractive index as light transfers from air into the cornea and proceeds into the aqueous fluid in the middle of the cornea and the iris.

If the refractive index change of air (about 1.00) and the aqueous fluid beneath the cornea (about 1.33) were not as significant, the light would not bend as much.

This becomes noticeable when you try to look at something underwater. Things appear out of focus because the cornea is designed to work with light from the air rather than from the water. Wearing swimming goggles underwater allows the layer of air to be present.

See also: Dent in head: Causes and treatment options

What Does it Mean Unfocus The Eyes?

Many other processes in the eye have come to play to unfocus the eyes, but the main one that plays a significant part in defocusing the vision is called accommodation.

The mechanisms of accommodation help control the focal distance and are usually utilized involuntarily just by looking around. There are various ways accommodation can be controlled voluntarily, and the most specific pattern related to unfocusing the eye is called divergence (increasing focal length).

Regarding accommodation, divergence is made possible by relaxing a specific set of muscles in your eyes. These muscles pull on the tiny ligaments that connect those muscles to the eye lens when they are in a calm state; in return, this flattens the surface of the lens, and your focus gets farther and farther away than it is.

The total relaxation of these muscles means you are focusing on an “object” some immeasurable distance away (even if it’s not there), so anything closer than that appears blurry. The best possible way to describe this process would be “staring into space,” in spite of the fact that the same process takes place in “zoning out” and the “thousand-yard stare.”

The other way to defocus is called convergence, which is the opposite of the accommodation process. Voluntary convergence can be done by crossing your eyes.

Just like voluntary convergence, voluntary divergence is believed to be pretty standard across the general population.

To unfocus your eyes means you are voluntarily controlling the muscles around the lens of your eye. The lens is usually adjusted involuntarily to view things close to us instead of things far away. If you defocus your eyes while staring at something up and close, it will result in looking at something far away.

In addition, individuals who have total control over these mechanisms are more likely to see the hidden image in autostereograms/Magic Eye pictures. These pictures require honing in on the correct focal distance to see the hidden image, which is pretty tricky without some measure of extra control.

If you are having a hard time unfocusing your eyes, it could be as a result of accommodative dysfunction or age-related farsightedness (presbyopia). You could tell if you have this problem if you can see objects, words, or images when they are close to you, but you find it very hard to see them when there’s a change in their distance.

Accommodative Dysfunction

1 describes this as an eye-focusing condition when an up-close or farther away in distance results in blurred vision. Accommodative dysfunction is said to be expected in children or adults who have extensive near-work demand.

The ability to stare from near to far, fast, and easy without any blur based on its distance is one of the primary visual skills that are very crucial for optical information processing for near-centered demands like reading on computers, smartphones, or books.

A study by Scheinman et al which includes over two thousand pediatric patients, shows that at least 19% of the patients suffer from a binocular or accommodative dysfunction. Symptoms of accommodative dysfunction may consist of;

  1. Avoidance of visually demanding tasks.
  2. Abnormal postural adaptations (too near or farther away).
  3. Blur at a distance after performing near work.
  4. Headaches
  5. Decreased comprehension of the material 
  6. Diminished accuracy at work 
  7. Fatigue
  8. Faliure to look from near to far instantly without encountering any blurry vision.
  9. Transient blurred vision.

As you age, you gradually lose your ability to focus on nearby objects actively. While this condition frequently becomes noticeable in your early to mid-forties, the situation gets worse when you are around 65 years of age.

Presbyopia happens as a result of natural changes in the lens of the eye, resulting in an increased lack of flexibility.

Your clear lens sits in the eye at the back of your colored iris. Your lens changes shape to focus light onto the retina so you can see. The lens is usually soft and flexible and allows easy changes in form during the early stages of your life. During this stage, you can focus on objects both near and farther in the distance.

However, the lens becomes more rigid when you hit your later adulthood (around 40 to 45). When the lens becomes more rigid during this period, it cannot change shape as quickly as your young adult. This makes it harder to do close-up tasks like reading on screens (computers or smartphones), threading a needle, or as well as reading a book.

This condition progresses until your elderly chronological age of 65 or older, worsening. Symptoms of age-related farsightedness include;

  1. blurry vision at regular reading distance
  2. eye strain after reading a material
  3. headaches (in rare cases)

ADHD and The Eyes

Some eye problems are more frequent in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) individuals. These include refractive dysfunction, astigmatism, and convergence insufficiency, which makes it hard for the eyes to maintain alignment when staring at closer materials.

Visual disturbances are generally ruled out in diagnostic criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Nonetheless, there is said to be a connection between conditions affecting the health of the eye and ADHD.

According to a study carried out on children with and without visual impairment in 2016, it was reported that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnoses were more frequent in children with visual problems. Of 75,000 of the children in which the study was carried out, over 15% of those with vision impairment also had an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnosis, compared to 8.3% of those without vision impairment.

Studies indicate a connection between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and specific visual impairments.

When to See an Optometrist

Suppose you are unable to control your eye focus. In that case, it is an indication that the ciliary muscles are not working appropriately — this, however, is non-inclusivity of age (either in your 20s or 30s, or 40s). Whether 

It is crucial that you consult an eye doctor immediately after observing that you are having issues with focusing your eyes. This also does not exclude you if you have always had a problem with your vision — you should still reach out to a verified eye doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Contacts and glasses can help while your optometrist ensures no other vision-related problems.

There is no way to reverse or put a stop to the age-related farsightedness that follows the natural aging process in humans. Nonetheless, presbyopia can be put right with contact lenses, eyeglasses, or surgery. Individuals with problems that prevent them from seeing both near and far may benefit from progressive lenses.

Because age-related farsightedness is a thing that cannot be avoided, the American Academy of Opthalmology (AAO) recommends that you start seeing an optometrist for regular screenings beginning when you are in your early to mid-40s, even if you believe or see any obvious signs of a problem with your vision.

Takeaway

Our brain uses both eyes to create an image with depth, but to do so, both eyes have to be focused on the same target.

While unfocusing the eyes is completely natural in many people, some people can learn to do it. However, it will take some practice. People who can defocus naturally usually do it involuntarily but, if you have nothing to do for long enough, you will figure it out, eventually.

Verifiable References
  1. American optometric association (AOA) []
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