Are you blinking enough? (Hint: probably not!)
As a human being, you’re meant to blink – and blink correctly! Blinking keeps the surface of your eyes clear of debris and allergens and keeps the ocular surface lubricated. Why is that important? Well, a lubricated eye helps to naturally bring nutrients and other substances to the surface of the eye, where they help to keep your baby blues healthy. Those tears that wash over your eyes when you blink also help to fight and prevent infection, and even brightens the image your retina receives. In short, blinking is arguably the healthiest thing you can do for your eyes!
But are you blinking right? If you’re not practicing a “full” blink, chances are, you’re not washing as much lubrication over the surface of your eye as you could be. A full blink brings tears from the tear gland, which is located beneath your brow bone, and sweeps them across your eye. When you’re distracted or focused on something, chances are you’re not blinking often enough, and when you are, you’re likely not practicing a “full” blink.
Practice Makes Perfect
Like any activity, you can improve your blinking with practice! The idea of “practicing” blinking might seem silly, but with daily training sessions, you’ll become much more conscious of when and how you’re blinking (and more importantly, when you’re not). Set aside a few one-minute blinking sessions per day, and use these quick minutes to “power blink.” Try to blink 50 times in each minute-long exercise, taking care to look in different directions (up, down, left, right) as you do so. Take care to close your eyes fully, but don’t squeeze them shut – just as you naturally do.
Experience a Better Blink
Once you begin blinking better (say that three times fast), you might notice a difference in your eyes, head and maybe even your energy levels! That’s because blinking helps to prevent or alleviate eye strain and eye fatigue – a condition that is becoming more and more prevalent the more we depend on technology. According to the American Optometric Association, 71 percent of adults spend up to seven hours each day using a computer or other electronic device. Not only that but 61 percent of us also use a smartphone or other device for reading rather than a printed material. With all that time spent glued to the screen, it’s no wonder so many patients complain about eye strain, eye fatigue, and dry eyes.
Staring at a screen – for any amount of time – keeps you from blinking as frequently as you normally would. And without blinking (you guessed it), you’re more likely to develop dry eyes, tension headaches, and even eye infections. To help prevent this, make sure you give your eyes (and your mind) a break every 20 minutes. Just look away from the screen for 10 seconds and focus on something else. It’s also a good idea to try to stay conscious of how often you’re blinking.
While the use of electronics is the culprit for much of our collective failure to blink regularly, it’s not the only one. If you wear contact lenses, chances are you’re not blinking often enough, because your eyelids aren’t naturally accustomed to blinking over a foreign object. That’s why it’s great to take breaks for your lenses, or if you’d like a permanent solution, get corrective eye surgery (we can help you with that).
If you’re not blinking enough, you might want to make a point to simply close your eyes for small increments of time when your vision isn’t needed. This might be while you’re thinking about how to respond to an email, during a TV commercial break or while you ride the elevator.
See and feel better today! From all of us here, have a “blinking” good week!