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Emmetropia (from Greek emmetros, "well-proportioned" or "fitting") describes the state of vision where an object at infinity is in sharp focus with the eye lens in a neutral or relaxed state. This condition of the normal eye is achieved when the refractive power of the cornea and the axial length of the eye balance out, which focuses rays exactly on the retina, resulting in perfect vision. An eye in a state of emmetropia requires no correction.
Emmetropia is a state in which the eye is relaxed and focused on an object more than 6 meters or 20 feet away. The light rays coming from that object are essentially parallel, and the rays are focused on the retina without effort (an emmetropic eye does not need corrective lenses). If the gaze shifts to something closer, light rays from the source are too divergent to be focused without effort. In other words, the eye is automatically focused on things in the distance unless a conscious effort is made to focus elsewhere. For a wild animal or human prehistorical ancestors, this arrangement would be adaptive because it allows for alertness to predators or prey at a distance.
Accommodation of the lens does not occur in emmetropia. In emmetropia, the lens is about 3.6 mm thick at the center; in accommodation, it thickens to about 4.5 mm. A relatively thin lens and relatively dilated pupil are also associated. The lens usually stiffens with age, causing less ability to focus when the eyes are not in a state of emmetropia.
Corrective eye surgery such as LASIK and PRK aims to correct anemmetropic vision. This is accomplished by ensuring the curvature of the cornea, the shape of the lens and their distances from each other and the retina are in harmony. By shaping the cornea, emmetropic vision can be achieved without corrective lenses. The correction for only emmetropic vision is often why patients are still advised to wear glasses to read as they age due to presbyopia.
The development of an eye towards emmetropia is known as emmetropization. This process is guided by visual input, and the mechanisms that coordate this process are not fully understood. It is assumed that genetic factors and emmetrization both influence the growth of the eye's axis.
"Emmetropia" is ultimately derived from Greek en/em ("in") + metron ("measure," not to be confused with metr-/meter "mother") + op[s/t]- ("eye") + -ia ("condition"). Translated literally, the term indicates the condition of an eye's having in itself (i.e., without recourse to corrective lenses or other instruments) the capability to obtain an accurate measurement of an object's physical appearance.
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