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When light goes through transparent but dense material like the materials of the eye's lens system (the lens and cornea), its velocity decreases. If the surface of the dense material is not perpendicular to the incoming light, as is the case with the curved surfaces on lenses and corneas, the direction of the light changes. The greater the curvature of the lens system, the greater the change in the direction of the light.

When parallel light rays from an object go through the lens system of the eye, they are bent so they converge at a point some distance behind the lens. With perfect vision this point of convergence, where the light rays are focused, is on the retina. This happens when the cumulative curvature of the lens plus cornea and the distance from the lens to the retina are just right for each other. The condition where the point of focus of parallel light rays from an object is behind the retina is called hyperopia. This condition exists when the combined curvature of the lens and cornea is insufficient (e.g., flatter than needed for the length of the eyeball). This condition can be equivalently described by saying hyperopia exists when the eyeball is too short for the curvature of its lens system.

There is a connection between the focusing of the lens of the eye (accommodation) and convergence of the eyes (the two eyes turning in to point at a close object). The best example is during reading. The lens accommodates to make the close-up material clear and the eyes turn in to look at the print and keep it single. Because of this connection between accommodation and convergence, if the lens needs to accommodate to focus for distance (to bring the image back onto the retina) the eyes may appear to turn in even when looking at the distance. This can cause a condition known as accommodative esotropia in children. The eyes turn in and the cause is accommodation because of hyperopia.

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