Why do we blink?

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eye with finger
Don't you know you can put your eye out like that?
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The question of why do we need to blink relates to body function

Why do we blink? Some of the body’s functions need no thought—blinking, for example. Blinking is an amazing process. The eyes open and shut with rapidity and for good reasons. Blinking is a protective response that prevents the eyeballs from drying out. Blinking provides a way to shield the eyes when any sudden movement is perceived as an oncoming threat. In addition, another answer to the question of why do we blink relates to the activity occurring when a foreign particle is felt in the eye. People go through life with no awareness of most involuntary activities. Few are aware that in another few seconds it will be time to inhale or exhale. Few ever think about the brain’s ability to determine when to commence, or cease, the muscle movements that conduct a recent meal along the intestinal tract. Why do we blink? Protection, moisturizing and the clearing of foreign objects are the main reasons. The eyes are a precious part of the human package. Their health is to be guarded at all times. Cautions include wearing appropriate safety glasses while at work in hazardous environments such as construction sites, manufacturing plants, recycling centers and the like. A collection of emergency supplies, assembled in a compact first aid kit, surely is a good thing to have on hand in cases where the eyes are endangered by any number of factors.

Blinking is a way of clearing the eyes

Experts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) emphasize the importance of seeking quick medical care for eye emergencies. Vision loss can occur in many ways. Mother’s was a dire warning, “Don’t you know you could put your eye out like that?” It was a warning that covered everything from buying a bee-bee gun to running with scissors. Why do we blink? Blinking could be named as a defense against putting your eye out but few mothers would contend blinking is an effective prophylactic. Nevertheless, the NIH offers some solid advice in a recent report. Some information is important to share here, in this discussion related to why do we blink.

The eye is open to many insults

Allergic reactions can plague the eye and cause watering and itching. Blinking is one way the eye tries to clear away bits of pollen, dust or foreign objects. Bacterial and viral conditions such as pink eye can be a problem. Important in the list of what to do for pink eye is to avoid spreading the problem to others.

Chemicals in the eye
call for flushing with running water or saline and the removal of contact lenses, only after a good flushing. Hold the head sideways with the affected eye in the downward position. Keep the eye open. Let the tepid water run gently across the eyeball.

An embedded object
in the eye should be removed only by trained medical personnel. Do not rub the eye. Cover both eyes with first-aid-kit gauze to reduce eye movement and seek professional help. Sometimes, by blinking or shedding tears, the object naturally will be cleared.

Common sense aids prevention of injuries

Why do we blink? The amazing machine that is the human body ensures that by blinking the eye is moisturized and protected. But the body only can do so much. People who are prevention oriented when it comes to health will take extra measures to ensure the health of their eyes. Those who work in industry will wear eye protection such as face shields, visors or approved safety goggles whose strength is sufficient to repel flying debris, shards of metal or bits of glass thrown from grinding wheels and such.

People who play sports also are at risk for eye injury. The question of why do we blink relates to an automatic response made when objects come too close to the eye. Football players wear helmets. Swimmers wear goggles not just to see underwater but as protection from chlorine and other chemicals. Tennis players, too—the wise ones—equip themselves with specialized sunglasses that are easy on the eye and a help to eye health.

Appreciate the wonder of healthy eyes

One’s eyesight should last a lifetime. Preventive care is one way of ensuring longevity. Luck may play a part, too, as in this old adage: “God grant me the Senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.”

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