IT’S BEST TO BLINK SOFTLY EVERY TWO TO FOUR SECONDS, WHICH TRANSLATES TO ABOUT FIFTEEN TO THIRTY BLINKS PER MINUTE.

BY DR. BEN KIM

If you’re keen on taking optimal care of your eyes and vision, I encourage you to adopt the habit of blinking softly as often as possible.

Frequent and gentle blinking is essential to maintaining healthy eyes and optimal vision because it allows your eyelids to keep your eyes coated with three beneficial layers of tears:

  1. The first layer of tears lies right up against the whites of your eyes, and provides an even coat of protein-rich moisture that the second layer can adhere to.
  2. The middle watery layer helps to wash away foreign debris. It also nourishes the cornea of your eyes with minerals, a variety of proteins, and moisture.
  3. The third outer layer of tears is somewhat oily. It serves to prevent the middle watery layer from evaporating quickly, and provides needed lubrication between your eyes and your eyelids.

If your eyes are not regularly coated with the three layers of tears described above, they will be deprived of ongoing nourishment and cleansing, and they will be unnecessarily strained.

One of the reasons why many of us don’t blink as often as we should is that we don’t see frequent blinking in mainstream media. Actors and anchor-people are typically trained to blink as infrequently as possible, so when we take in most forms of media, our subconscious minds learn that it isn’t normal to blink frequently.

To optimally support your eyes and vision, it’s best to blink softly every two to four seconds, which translates to about fifteen to thirty blinks per minute. By consciously making an effort to softly blink at this rate, over time, your body will turn your conscious efforts into a subconscious habit.

If you’re thinking that such frequent blinking will make reading a book or viewing a movie uncomfortable, give it a try and you’ll see right away that it doesn’t take away from these experiences at all.

Here are some notes on blinking to promote optimal eye health and vision: ­

A soft and natural blink should occur like the light flap of the wings of a butterfly – this is a good image to visualize as you make an effort to blink softly every two to four seconds. ­

You should blink regularly during all activities, including reading, working on the computer, and viewing a TV program or film. ­

Contact lenses can discourage frequent blinking because the back side of your eyelids is not designed to rub over an artificial surface. This is one of several good reasons why contact lenses should be avoided whenever possible. ­

Some yoga and meditation instructors suggest doing exercises that involve fixating your vision on one object—such as the flame of a candle—and doing your best not to blink. My experience has been that frequent blinking while doing this type of exercise doesn’t take away from the ability to experience inner stillness. Since the primary goal of blinking regularly is to keep your eyes well lubricated and nourished, another good tip for eye and vision care is to keep your eyes closed when possible, like when you’re thinking about something and don’t need your vision. For example, if you’re stuck in the middle of composing an e-mail message, close your eyes while you think of your next sentence. Frequent blinking may not sound like it can do much for your health, but it’s one of those seemingly insignificant actions that can really make a difference to the quality of your health over the long term if you can make it a subconscious habit.

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