Blinking is so automatic, we rarely think about it. That is, unless we’re in the middle of a heated no-blinking contest. But, is there a point to blinking that goes beyond childhood staring contests? There is! Blinking not only keeps the eyes moist but can actually protect you from developing retinal disease.
Importance of Blinking
Your eyes are constantly active. You blink when you talk and when you sneeze. The average person blinks 10,000 times a day, or 12 times per minute. No wonder why staring contests are so tough! The eye is also the fastest and most active muscle in the body, which is where the saying, “In the blink of an eye,” came from.
There are several reasons why blinking is a fundamental part of having healthy eyes.
-Protects the eyes from infection. When you blink, the surface of your eye is cleaned. Debris are washed away, protecting your eyes from irritation and infection.
-Keeps the eyes comfortable and moist. Each blink produces fresh tears that lubricate the eyes and prevents dryness and irritation.
-Maintains sharp, clear vision. The tears in each blink also sharpen your vision by clearing and brightening the image your retina receives.
-Produces nutrients. Blinking nourishes your eyes with nutrients and oxygen that keeps them healthy and comfortable.
-Mental rest. Another perk to blinking is that it allows you to close your eyes, even if just for a millisecond. You can disengage from the world and collect your thoughts.
Why Blinking May Prevent Retinal Disease
By understanding the benefits of blinking, you can see how this simple, involuntary act keeps the eyes healthy. In turn, healthy eyes have a lower risk of developing retinal disease. Here are a few of the most common retina conditions that our retina specialists in NYC see.
-Retinal tear or detachment. Retinal tears and detachments can happen for a number of reasons, including injury or trauma. By blinking, the tears remove debris from the surface of the eye, preventing injury.
-Dry eye. Exercise blinking is a treatment option for people with dry eye. It can also improve comfort and vision for people with dry macular degeneration, as this condition creates protein buildup on the retina.
-Retinal occlusions. If the retina doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can have a stroke. The cells can die almost immediately, compromising your vision. Regular blinking, along with exercise and clean eating, provides oxygen to the eyes.
-Macular holes. Macular holes are small holes in the center of the retina (macula). They can be caused by injury or trauma to the eye. Blinking washes away debris so it can’t pose a risk.
While blinking is not a cure for retinal diseases, it can prevent retinal holes, tears and detachments. So go ahead – blink away! And be sure to make a conscious effort to blink every 10-15 seconds if you’re on electronics.