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Why Is Blinking Important? Why Do We Blink Our Eyes?

Infants blink once or twice and adults blink 14 - 17 times every minute. Blinking cleans, moisturizes and protects your eyes from dirt particles and brings nutrients to the eye surface to keep them healthy. It brightens the image received by retina. Importantly, it allows our brain to assimilate what has been seen.

Why Do We Blink?

We all blink. Most of the time, we blink naturally without being aware of it. This is spontaneous blinking. Sometimes we blink reflexively as a response to external stimuli, say when an external object (such as an insect) appears suddenly in front of your eyes.We may even blink voluntarily to clear blurry vision or when eyes feel fatigued.

Infants and adults blink differently. On an average, infants blink only one or two times every minute, but an adult blinks nearly 14 – 17 times per minute. The reason for this difference is still unknown, but some suggest that infants do not require the same amount of eye lubrication that adults do because of their smaller eyelid opening when compared to adults.

The blinking rate can change based on context. Suppose you are watching television or reading a book, you would end up blinking less. While reading, you are likely to blink at the end of each sentence. Haven’t observed it yet? Blinking also increases in response to pain, bright light, changes in temperature and humidity and conversation.

Some of us suffer from excessive blinking. This is usually forceful and may be associated with other movements of the face, head or neck.1 Excessive blinking may be caused by problems with the eyelids, habitual tics, refractive error, intermittent exotropia and stress.

[Read: What Does Ayurveda Recommend For Weak Eyesight?]

The Importance of Blinking Eyes

Cleans and Protects The Eyes

The main purpose of blinking is to clean and moisturize the eyes and protect them by sweeping away the small particles of dust or dirt that may cause irritation. Every time we blink, a small quantity of tears tend to flow from the tear gland wetting the lower third of the cornea.

Improves Eye Health

Blinking of eyes brings nutrients to the eye surface keeping them healthy. It also helps in brightening the image received by the retina.

Allows Our Brain To Assimilate Information

Blinking plays an active role in the release of attention from external stimuli while attentively engaging in a cognitive task – in short, blinking allows the brain to assimilate what has been seen.2

The brain is even able to figure out an implicit timing appropriate to minimize the chance of losing critical information while viewing a stream of visual events and control blinking timing accordingly.3

Vision Stays Continuous Despite Blinking

Blinking should theoretically cause a momentary blackout. However, the eye and brain have a mechanism to suppress this blackout and keep the visual experience flowing continuously.4


References   [ + ]

1. Khouri, Albert S. “Excessive blinking in children.” Ophthalmology 5.110 (2003): 878
2.  Nakano, Tamami, et al. “Blink-related momentary activation of the default mode network while viewing videos.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110.2 (2013): 702-706
3. Nakano, Tamami, et al. “Synchronization of spontaneous eyeblinks while viewing videos stories.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences (2009): rspb20090828
4.  Riggs, Lorrin A., Frances C. Volkmann, and Robert K. Moore. “Suppression of the blackout due to blinks.” Vision Research 21.7 (1981): 1075-1079

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.