How Blink Rate Affects Dry Eye

How Blink Rate Affects Dry Eye

Although perhaps it seems obvious, there is a significant correlation between abnormal blink rate and chronic dry eye disease. Many patients with a decreased blink rate complain of suffering from typical dry eye symptoms, such as burning and itchiness. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the correlation between dry eye and lowered blink rate is becoming more and more prevalent as certain kinds of eye strain, such as the overuse of computer screens, gains traction around the world.

The function of the blink is to retain a clean, healthy tear film stability on the surface of the eye. Every blink facilitates the drainage of tears, excretion of lipids from the meibomian glands, spreading of lipids across the corneal surface and elimination of debris from the tear film. Not all blinks are identical: they often vary in duration, can be full or partial, and can increase or decrease in per-minute rate. As blink rate decreases, dry eye symptoms are perpetuated. Mild symptoms seem to become worse, and severe symptoms of chronic dry eye become intolerable. But what causes a decrease in blink rate?

The most common factors that lead to a decreased blink rate per minute are the usage of computer screens, reading, and driving. Because the eyes must focus precisely on the task at hand blink rate steadily increases, causing the eyes to dry out. Unfortunately for those suffering from dry eye disease, these three factors don’t seem to be going away any time soon. 

It is imperative to recognize the correlation between chronic dry eye and blink rate. If your daily life brings you in close proximity to computer or television screens, consider developing a habit of conscious blinking. Given the autonomous nature of blinking, this may seem silly. But training your mind to blink at healthy intervals will keep your eyes’ tear film stability at normal levels. Bruder Healthcare also offers our Moist Heat Compress, a moist heat pad that features our patented MediBeads moist heat therapy technology to relieve the symptomatic pain associated with a low blink rate and chronic dry eye. Visit the Shop to learn more about the Moist Heat Compress and other Bruder products.