Eye focusing problems are the most common type of eye disorder. Most eye focusing problems are refractive errors, which are caused by problems with the eye’s ability to focus light sharply on the retina. Other focusing problems may be caused by an eye disease, aging or a condition like diabetes.
The eye’s ability to focus light on the retina depends on the length of the eye or the curvature of the eye’s surface. When the eye is too long, it results in not being able to see objects at a distance. This is known as myopia or nearsightedness. When the eye is too short, it results in difficulty focusing on objects that are close up. This is known as hyperopia or farsightedness. If the cornea (surface of the eye) is not perfectly spherical, focusing is affected. This condition is called astigmatism and tends to distort vision at all distances.
Many eye focusing problems are related to aging. Presbyopia is an age-related condition in which the lens of the eye loses its ability to focus, resulting in difficulty seeing details up close. Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens that leads to decreased nighttime vision and eventually affects daytime vision as well. Macular degeneration is an age-related condition that results in loss of central vision. It is the most common cause of blindness in people over the age of 60.
Some conditions and diseases may lead to eye focusing problems. The most common of these is diabetes. Other conditions that may affect your vision include multiple sclerosis, brain tumor or stroke.
Eye focusing problems are not always related to aging or disease. Other possible causes of problems include fatigue, medications and overexposure to the outdoors. Focusing problems that should be called to the attention of a medical professional include double vision, difficulty seeing objects on your side, difficulty seeing at night and difficulty distinguishing colors. Call a doctor if you experience partial or complete blindness, even if it is temporary.
Regular eye exams are important. An annual eye exam is recommended, especially if you are over the age of 65. More frequent exams may be recommended if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or any condition that affects vision. Your eyes will be periodically dilated to examine the retina for signs of vision problems from aging, high blood pressure or diabetes. If you are having problems with eye focusing, discuss them with your doctor.