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Can Frequent Blinking Overcome Dry Eyes?

Frequent blinking is crucial to keep the surface of the eye moist and reduce the symptoms of dry eyes. Staring at a computer screen can reduce blinking.

Dry eyes are a serious concern because they can cause pain and affect a person’s quality of life (Benitez-Del-Castillo et al, The Ocular Surface, April 2017). There are artificial tears and other eye drops designed to moisten the surface of the eye, but could frequent blinking help as well? One reader is sure it does.

Exercises That Involve Frequent Blinking:

Q. Many years ago, when I was young and vain, I was trying desperately to wear contact lenses, but my eyes were too dry. The doctor told me to start doing eye exercises multiple times a day, whenever I thought about it.

He had me blink rapidly ten times and look up. Then I was to look down while blinking ten times, followed by looking first to the right and then to the left, blinking rapidly ten times on each glance. This frequent blinking really made a difference in easing my dry eyes.

A. Frequent blinking is important for moisturizing the surface of the eye and preventing dry eye syndrome. People who stare at computer screens may not blink often enough (Morcego et al, Journal of Biomedical Optics, Feb. 2016). In some workplaces, the computer camera is tracking blink frequency and reminding people when they are not blinking enough. Your doctor’s recommendation still makes sense.

New Approaches to Dry Eye Treatment:

There are newer approaches to overcoming dry eyes as well. The meibomian glands in the eyelids secrete the oils that keep tears from drying out too fast. A LipiFlow machine to treat these glands when they stop working efficiently can make a significant difference in dry eye symptoms for several months following treatment (Zhao et al, Journal of Ophthalmology, online Dec. 27, 2016).

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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