Photo by Taylor Sondgeroth on Unsplash

Blinking is an involuntary reflex which does not require much thought throughout our day. Even though blinking seems simple, it is very important. And believe it or not, there is a correct way to blink.

Why is blinking so important?

  • Protects our eyes from debris and foreign objects
  • Creates a smooth surface for light to enter our eye and land on our retina for clear vision
  • Keeps our eyes moist and spreads tear film evenly

The 20/20/20 Rule

Our blinking pattern can be disrupted throughout the day when we are staring at a screen for too long and doing continuous near work. Optometrists recommend the 20/20/20 rule for everyone, especially those with too much screen time. The 20/20/20 rule means taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

There is a right way to blink

We want to ensure that when we blink, it is a complete blink. This means that our top eyelid should touch our bottom eyelid. It is very common for people to blink only halfway or not close their eyes completely while asleep. This can be a problem since it exposes the bottom half of our eye and does not allow our tears to be expressed as efficiently. As you may guess, this leads to dry eye symptoms.

Incorporating the 20/20/20 rule and being more conscious about the way we blink can go a long way in helping our eyes feel less dry throughout the day.

Dry eye is a disease pertaining to the ocular surface and instability of the tear film, potentially resulting in inflammation, dryness, or damage. Symptoms of this include burning, itching, dryness, photophobia, tiredness, and blurry vision.

Diagram of Conjunctiva, Lacrimal Gland, and mucus, water and oil layers of Tear Film in the eye
Source: American Academy of Optometry

Dry eye disease (DED) include two distinct types: aqueous deficient dry eye (ADDE) and evaporative dry eye (EDE). In ADDE, high levels of tear evaporation results when lacrimal secretion is reduced although there is normal evaporative conditions from the eye. Comparatively, in EDE, the lacrimal glands function normally, and the increased evaporation of tears is caused by the exposed tear film. Some patients might even have a mixed form of DED as well.

Risk factors for DED include connective tissue disease, Sjögren syndrome, androgen deficiency, Lasik eye surgery, certain environmental conditions (ie. pollution and low humidity), medication use (ie. antihistamines and antidepressants), computer use, and contact lens wear (which has an affect on tear film hemostasis and reduces its thickness). Research has shown that the outbreak of Covid-19 has also contributed to an increase in the likelihood of DED. Covid-19 has resulted in prolonged electronic usage and less outdoor activities, with a reported 44% increase in smartphone usage. Excessive focus on a screen decreases blink rate, decreasing the moisture production in the eye. This causes strain on the ocular surface, and this stress is greater in contact lens users.

Some recommendations for management and treatment of dry eye disease include ocular lubricants (eye drops of various types), warm compresses, expression of the meibomian glands (a process which we offer at Eyelab), lid hygiene, and prescribed drugs.

Source: Towfiqu Barbhuiy on Unsplash

At Eyelab, we have the skill and the technology to accurately provide you a solution corresponding to your unique situation. Book an appointment today to learn more about how we can help!