Blinking is one of the body’s unconscious processes that often go unnoticed by us during our day, especially as the average blink lasts only a tenth of a second. But why is it that we blink? What benefit does the movement give us?
In reality there are several reasons why the eyelid blinks over our eye. The first, and most common, cause of blinking is to ensure that the eye itself is kept moisturised. Around the edge of the eyelid, by the eyelashes, are glands which produce a natural oil. As the eyelid moves over the eye ball, this oil is spread across the surface of the eye. This oil also works to prevent the eye lashes from drying out too. Particularly in windy or dry atmospheres your eyelids will work overtime in order to prevent your eyes from drying out, one of the reasons that you may yourself blinking more on a windy day. Additionally, the blink will encourage out moisture from the tear ducts which will then be used to flush the surface of the eye from any dust or foreign bodies that might be there.
Another reason that you blink is to prevent foreign bodies from coming into your eye and causing you pain. In situations where the eye is at risk, the eye will blink with the aim of collecting any potential foreign bodies in the eyelashes instead.
Research into blinking has found that adults blink around 10-15 times every minute, and that one blink may not be the same as the next, depending on the conditions that the blinker is in. Other factors can also affect how often you blink. For example, when we are tired we tend to blink more than when we are feeling awake and relaxed. Research has also found that when we are listening to or reading information that is important to us, we tend to blink less than we do when we are not taking in something important.