Blinking is a semiautonomous bodily function or, to simply put it, a coordinated squeezing of the upper and lower lids. Many people don’t see blinking as more than an involuntary act—without realizing that it serves an important function! This January, as the weather gets colder and people spend time on their devices, we’re breaking down the importance of blinking and tears.
A blink is more than just closing your eyes. Blinks squeeze glands in the eye to produce nourishing tears while directing the old tear film toward the area where the drainage system starts. With a complete blink, you are able to moisturize your eyes with these protein-rich nutrients. Tears are made up of oil, water, and mucus components. The oily substance is the topmost layer. It prevents the watery component of tears from evaporating too quickly. Meanwhile, the bottom mucus layer helps spread your tears across the eye.
Blinking gets rid of debris from the eye, keeps the eye moist, and flushes nutrient-rich tears over the ocular surface. An intact tear film creates an ultrasmooth corneal surface that allows light to properly pass through the cornea, lens, and vitreous and onto the retina. In this way, blinking can promote comfortable eyes and clear vision.
Blinking also helps protect your eyes. Your eyelids, eyebrows, and eyelashes are all defense mechanisms that stop foreign objects from getting into the eye. However, it’s impossible to catch everything. A blink is the final defense for foreign objects. If a foreign substance, like an eyelash or dirt, enters the eye, tears and blinking will attempt to flush it out. Who knew a blink could put everything in sync?
If you suffer from dry eye, this condition can make blinking less effective at its job. Whether due to issues with the water or oil components of tears, dry eye impacts your comfort and your eyes’ function. Unfortunately, when dry eye is coupled with cold winter weather, your blinks will have even fewer tears to work with.
This season, another thing to be conscientious about is how digital devices change your blinking. Using laptops and phones for a prolonged time leads to a lower blink rate and incomplete blinks. In fact, many people do not blink completely. If the upper and lower lids do not make contact and squeeze the glands, it causes less oil to be secreted.Over time, this may lead to a relatively negative feedback mechanism, which could contribute to deterioration of the quality and quantity of oil secreted with aging. If you are experiencing issues with blinking while using electronics, follow guidelines such as the 20:20:20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds).
Fortunately, if you are suffering from dry eye, you have options. At Better Vision New Jersey, we can treat dry eye using solutions like punctal plugs, artificial tears, or a treatment called LipiFlow® that unclogs oil glands. Our expert team will find the ideal solution for you—based on your eyes, health, and tear composition. Together, we’ll get your tears back on track, so you can enjoy every blink!
If you’re suffering from dry eye, call us to book an appointment. During this time of working from home, online school, and winter weather, your symptoms may only be exacerbated without treatment.