Blinking for eye health

January 2, 2008

You know the saying ‘blink and you’ve missed it’; well if you don’t blink what you could be missing is your best chance to take care of your eyes and depriving them of nourishment and cleansing. If you want to take up a new habit this year, then practice frequent and gentle blinking because it is essential to the health of your eyes and vision because it allows your eyelids to regularly coat your eyes with three beneficial layers of tears and this will help prevent eye strain.

1. The first layer of tears lies right up against the whites of your eyes, and provides an even coat of protein-rich moisture for the second layer to adhere to.

2. The middle watery layer helps to wash away foreign debris. It also nourishes the cornea of your eyes with minerals, a variety of proteins, and moisture.

3. The third outer layer of tears is a little oily so it helps prevent the middle watery layer from evaporating quickly. This gives you much-needed lubrication between your eyes and your eyelids.

If your eyes are not regularly coated with the three layers of tears described above, they will be deprived of ‘essential maintenance’ in the form of nourishment and cleansing. The side effect of this is that by not blinking enough you are potentially subjecting your eyes to eye strain. What can you do? Well for the best results, you need to blink softly every two to four seconds. It will seem odd and unnatural, but if you consciously make an effort to do this then, over time, your body will turn your conscious efforts into a subconscious habit.

Don’t stare fixedly at the television, computer screen or when reading. I am a speed-reader so my blink rate is very low and I have been working to increase it by ‘fluttering’ my eyelashes at the screen – happily only my cats are around to see it and I am feeling the benefit. One other suggestion is to close your eyes whenever you are thinking about something; it will also have the benefit of improving your concentration. Try it when you are stuck when in the middle of composing an e-mail message, close your eyes while you think of your next sentence, or any other time you can rest your vision.

By the way, if you wear contact lenses then it is very important you either lubricate your eyes or make sure you blink frequently. Contact lenses can discourage frequent blinking because the back surface of your eyelids is not designed to rub over an artificial surface and can result in dry eyes.


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