Dry eyes are a common complaint among many people and one of the main complaints to eye doctors. It can be uncomfortable and cause a lot of irritation if not treated properly. Fortunately, a simple thing can help, and it doesn’t involve any medications or treatments: blinking! Blinking is incredibly important for keeping your eyes moist and healthy. Let’s look at why blinking is so beneficial for dry eyes.
What Happens When You Blink?
When you blink, it helps spread tears over the surface of your eyes. This helps keep them lubricated and prevents them from drying out. Without regular blinking, your eyes become dry and irritated, leading to other symptoms like burning, itchiness, or blurred vision.
Blinking also helps flush out any debris that might have found its way into your eye while you are awake. This debris could be anything from dust particles to pollen, and by blinking regularly throughout the day, you can help keep it from irritating your eye further.
The Power of Tears
Tears are incredibly important for keeping your eyes healthy and comfortable. Your tears contain three layers that all work together to keep your eyes lubricated and free of infection-causing bacteria:
Oil, which prevents the tears from evaporating too quickly
Water contains proteins, which help fight off bacteria that could enter the eye.
Mucous, the mucous layer forms the bulk of the tears and contains electrolytes, various proteins, and water. It also has some anti-microbial properties.
Together these layers form a protective barrier over the surface of your eyes that helps keep them moist and healthy.
The Issue with partial blinking
Partial blinking does not put enough pressure on the lacrimal sac (the gland that produces tears), therefore not allowing tears to be deposited into the eyes. With normal blinking, tears are evenly distributed, and the process needs to be repeated consistently as the tear film begins to degrade after about 10 seconds and will need another blink to renew it. Fun fact, we blink about 10-12 blinks a minute!
Blinking frequency matters
Because the tear film degrades after about 10 seconds, blinking frequently and fully is vital to keep your eyes healthy and irritation at bay. Studies show that computer and screen users generally blink much less often. This results in a dryer, more irritated eye. When we’re relaxing, our blink rate can be as high as 22 blinks per minute; during normal daily activity, it's about 10-15 blinks per minute, but when on a computer reading, the blink rate can slow to as little as 6 blinks per minute.
If you’re feeling extra grittiness in your eyes while on the computer, blinking exercises can help you get some relief:
Close and open eyelids
- Close your eyes
- Keep them closed for 2 seconds
- Gently open your eyes
- Repeat five times
Close, squeeze, and open eyelids
- Close your eyes
- Keep your eyes closed for 2 seconds
- While your eyes are closed, squeeze your eyelids together slowly
- Gently open your eyes
- Repeat 5 times
Blinking should be a regular part of our daily lives in order to ensure our eyes stay healthy and comfortable. While most people take their ability to see for granted, taking care of our vision should be a priority to protect ourselves from potential complications. Regularly blinking throughout the day will help keep your eyes lubricated, protected from irritants, and free from infection-causing bacteria - all great benefits for those suffering from dry eyes! So don’t forget to blink! It just might make all the difference in keeping your vision clear and healthy well into old age!
Experiencing dry eyes?
If you have been battling with dry eye symptoms, having a full dry eye evaluation may be helpful. A dry eye evaluation is a series of tests that help to pinpoint the root cause of your dry eye condition. This evaluation includes a blink analysis that tests blinking quality and pressure to rule out dry eyes due to blinking issues.
We also offer a variety of dry eye products, from lubricants to eye masks and supplements, on our website! Shop now at DryEyeRescue.com.