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Why is Blinking Your Eyes Important?

Medically reviewed by Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO · Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Aug 25, 2022

Why is Blinking Your Eyes Important?

During childhood, most of us have played the ‘who blinks first’ game with our siblings or friends. The game where you had to hold a stare without blinking. You must be feeling nostalgic as to how our eyes used to burn and become watery and finally gave up. 

Have you ever wondered why is it so hard to maintain a stare without blinking? In fact, have you ever wondered why we blink?

Understanding Blinking: Why do we blink?

It is because of two reasons: lubricating the eyeball and clearing dust particles. 

Surprisingly, you won’t notice that on average, you blink approximately once every 10 seconds. (Okay, now you are trying to notice!)

On average, a blink takes about 400 milliseconds but blinking fast can affect your eyes in many ways. A person may blink faster for many reasons. Certain health conditions, fatigue, and the use of medication are common factors.

Although we don’t give much importance to blinking, if we don’t blink to some extent, we are at higher risk of eye infection, dry eyes, improper vision clarity, and uncomfortable eyes.

The most important benefit of eye blinking is that it clears the surface of the eye and washes away dust with fresh tears.

The fresh tears help to sharpen your vision and bring more clarity to your vision. Also, it helps to brighten the image that your retina receives.

Additionally, blinking helps provide oxygen and nutrients that keep the eyes healthy.

Link between your brain and blinking

While blinking is important for the eyes, some researchers speculate that it is beneficial for the brain too. Some scientists believe blinks are a way to give your brain a brief mental rest without visual stimuli.

According to a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), the precise moments we blink may not be random.

We tend to blink at very predictable times like while reading, most people blink at the end of a sentence. People while listening to a speech tend to blink when the speaker pauses between the sentences. Or while watching a video, people tend to blink when the action on the video lags for a moment or the video is interrupted for any reason.

As per research, when people blink, their mental activity spike in particular areas of the brain that work when the mind is in a state of wakeful rest. They felt that activation of this part of the brain serves as a short mental break that helps better attention when the eyes open again. 

However, this needs additional research.


Exercises for blinking

Exercises for blinking may sound weird to you as you might be thinking about what can be an exercise for simple blinking.

You can try these exercises designed to eliminate faulty blinking by adopting a fully relaxed and normal blink.

This exercise has been developed over the years and proved successful to numerous patients. You can consider them as steps to correct blinking that can help to get the habit of blinking properly.

Let us understand the structure of the eyelids to help you understand the steps for blinking.

There are two types of muscles in our eyelids, which can be called light and heavy. The function of the heavy muscles is to close eyelids quickly in emergency events. They force the lids together with vigorous action. They are not meant for normal blinking. 

If the heavy muscles, due to improper habits are used for ‘squinting’ or partial blinking, they will need retraining for wearing contact lenses with optimum success. You can feel the force exerted by the heavy muscles by placing your two index fingers at the outer corners of your eyes at the angle of the lids.

Many people are unaware of the correct blinking techniques, which can cause difficulty for them while using contact lenses. However, by knowing the correct blinking ways and with little practice you can learn to relax the heavy muscles, and thus eliminate the forced blink when not needed. 

Steps for correct blinking

1: Relax: Take a deep breath and relax in order to relax your eye muscles. It is important that throughout the exercise you are not forcing any eye movements. Forced eye movement causes muscle tension. Instead, try to open and close the eyes smoothly and naturally. Let it be a normal, casual process without having to take much effort. 

2: Close: Gently and slowly close your eyes. As you are already feeling relaxed, you can close your eyes comfortably without forcing your eye movements.

3: Pause: After closing your eyes slowly, pause for approximately 2-3 seconds. This will allow your upper lid to close fully. In this way, you will learn the feeling of complete eye closure.

4: Open: After the pause, open your eyes just slightly wider than normal. However, ensure this movement should not be accentuated to the point of a wrinkled brow. 

5: Pause: While you are in this wide-open position, pause for a moment.

You can perform this exercise regularly for at least 15 minutes. This will take just a few seconds throughout your day. Within 3 to 5 weeks, you are likely to improve your blinking habits.

Key Takeaway

Now that you know the importance of blinking, ensure you are doing it correctly. Follow these steps to receive benefits to both eyes and brain. Keep in mind that you are not forcing your eye movements and performing with utmost ease and patience. Blinking of eyes helps to keep your eyes healthy and prevent eye problems like dry eyes. 

Learn more about maintaining eye health here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO

Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Aug 25, 2022

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