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September 10, 2014

The Science of Blinking

Since we blink so often every day, and it is a reflex, we tend to take blinking for granted. However, it remains one of the most important bodily functions when it comes to eye care.

Did you know the average person blinks 15-20 times per minute? That’s 900-1200 times per hour. According to wmbriggs.com, a blink lasts a third of a second, which means our eyes are closed for 6 seconds every minute. This equates to 10%. So if we were to wake up at 8am and go to bed at midnight, in a 16 hour day our eyes were actually closed for 1 hour and 36 minutes. That is a lot of time that our eyes are actually closed when we are awake. But if it weren’t for the frequency in which we blink throughout the day, our eyes would be more susceptible to health risks, infection and other eye irritations.

Each time we blink, several things happen. The ocular surface of our eyes gets cleaned of debris while being replenished with a new tear film. This film not only keeps your eyes lubricated, it also has special nutrients in it to keep them healthy. When our eyes are not lubricated often enough they can get dry and irritated. A good example of this is people that spend a large part of their day at the computer. When our eyes focus on a computer screen, we blink less. Blinking less means less lubrication covering our eyes and increases the chances for dry eyes. It also allows for dust or debris to enter our eyes and not get cleaned out fast enough.

According to a study performed by Dr. Bill Gleason, there is actually a proper way to blink. His study videotaped a person blinking. After looking at the footage he noticed that the flow of tears actually responsible for wetting the lower third of the cornea came from what he referred to as “recycling.” Before you blink, there is a small build up of tears on your lower lid, and when your top lid and bottom lid touch, the top lid pulls the tears from the bottom lid back up and over the lower part of the cornea. If someone doesn’t do a full blink, the lower part of their cornea isn’t covered with tear film and this can present issues.

As you can see, blinking has a very specific purpose and importance, for helping our vision and preventing additional eye care needs. If your eyes aren’t producing enough tears and you are experiencing any eye irritation, give us a call and we can recommend the proper treatment to improve your eye health.

 

 

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