Probably not off the top of your head, but it’s an important number, because blinking is essential to good eye health. On average, adults blink between 10 and 20 times every minute. Each blink only takes a tenth of a second, but it’s a very important tenth of a second.
Every blink spreads a thin layer of tears across the cornea of the eye. Not only does this keep the eye from drying out, it also brushes away any tiny particles of dust or dirt that can irritate the eyes and interfere with vision. Excess tears and contaminants drain out through the tear ducts into the nasal passages (the reason we get runny noses when we cry!).
When we’re focusing hard on a task or something interesting like a book, game, or show, we tend to blink a lot less. In fact, under these conditions, we may blink as little as three to eight times per minute — nearly 60% less frequently than the normal, healthy rate! Over time, that can add up to problems like eye strain and dry eye.
We usually aren’t very conscious of when we blink, but making an effort to blink more often during those activities that require high focus can do a lot of good for our eyes. Try to make a habit of closing your eyes when thinking or doing something that doesn’t require vision.
You could set yourself reminders to do blinking exercises each hour during periods of high focus. A great exercise to keep your eyes feeling fresh is simply to close them, pause, squeeze a bit, then open again and relax.
Many different mechanisms work together in our eyes to make blinking what it is. We produce different types of tears, and we have tiny oil glands working around the clock to replenish the protective tear film throughout the day. Isn’t it amazing what can happen in the space of a single eye blink? If you’re struggling with symptoms of dry eye or eye strain and blinking exercises don’t seem to be helping enough, we encourage you to call or stop by our practice.