Why Do We Blink Our Eyes?

Blinking is a reflexive, quick closure of the eyelid. An average person blinks once every 10 seconds, 15-20 times in one minute, or 1,200 times per hour. In accumulation, 10% of our waking time is spent on blinking, as it takes around 400 milliseconds. However, the speed of a blink also varies depending on the body’s state, such as fatigue, medication, and health conditions.

Have you ever wondered why you blink so much when you have been working for hours in front of a laptop or a computer? Or have you played a staring contest with your friends, and you feel pain in your eyeball?

Well, here are the reasons why humans blink.

Blinking is important for two primary reasons: first, to clear off irritants and dust particles and second, to lubricate the eyeballs to avoid the pain felt in an exposure.

The eyelashes found on the upper and lower eyelids serve as the first defense line for the eyes against irritants and dirt. These eyelashes catch most of the dirt and irritants to avoid the eye from being irritated.

These eye irritants include smoke, some variety of pollen, remnants of pollution, chemical vapors, some foreign objects, or, more often, dust in the air. In cases where dirt and irritants reach the eyeball, blinking helps sanitize eyeballs and prevent possible or further irritation and infection.

Dry eyes are also a reason why people blink. Blinking enables the eyelids to distribute some oils, tears, or secretions all over the eyeball to keep it from drying out. The tears spread from blinking help sharpen the vision and clear the eyes to receive the registers of images. The secretions also include oxygen and nutrients to sustain the eyes and maintain their health and comfort.

If you’re ever wondering why human tears are salty, here’s why.

A human being uses the mechanism of blinking when he or she is working in front of gadgets, such as laptops, computers, and smartphones, to sustain sanitation and nourishment. While the eyes lose its natural moisture and nourishment, blinking provides these.

Wearing contact lenses very often also leads to more blinking. This is because the eyes acknowledge a foreign object’s discomfort, the contact lenses, in the eyeballs. It is also possible that certain situations involving wearing contact lenses dry out the eyeballs more quickly; therefore, the human body responds to such stimuli by blinking to bring back the moisture to the eyes.

An eye with a blue iris

Scientists and researchers have also concluded that blinking is merely controlled by the “blinking center” of the body as a constant mechanism. This blinking center is the globus pallidus of the lenticular nucleus. However, they also recognize the influence of external stimuli in blinking.

There are also other reasons why humans blink. Among such are corneal abrasion or scratches outside the eye, other eye injuries, ingrown eyelash, conjunctivitis, or commonly known as ‘pinkeye,’ iritis, or the inflammation of the iris, or blepharitis, which refers to the inflammation of the eyelid.

Aside from these medical reasons for blinking, some researchers also concluded that there are psychological reasons behind blinking.

One possible reason for blinking is that the brief mechanism of closing the eyes can potentially help a person focus and gather his or her thoughts. A person reading may blink after each sentence is done. A personal listening to a speech may also blink whenever the speaker pauses. A group of people may blink altogether when an action recedes after a highly dramatic or intense scene. A blink may also be voluntary as a person decides whenever there is an identified need for a brief mental rest from visual stimuli and would allow focus.

Interesting facts about blinking

Human biology is interesting. The quick mechanism of blinking, although some may be aware of it, is often unconscious. The human brain has made the person unconscious of blinking that one is made unaware of the brief moment when the eyes close.

The risk of eye infection increases when one does not blink for an extended period. If you are now caught aware of your blinking and detects problems with it, there are ways to improve blinking. This includes one-minute sessions done five times in a day. In each session, you must close your eyes, gentle and not tightly shut, and direct your eyes up, down, left, right, and center. This should improve your eyes’ state and help give your eyes enough time to rest, get back its moisture, and sanitize it against irritants and bacteria.