Home SEE WELL Excessive Blinking (And Winning Staring Contests)

Excessive Blinking (And Winning Staring Contests)

by Louise Wood
excessive blinking

Holding a stare asserts dominance over your opponent! It requires discipline and courage. We only have to look at the animal kingdom to see this in action… a tiger stalking its prey.

Blinking is a natural reflex. Your body does it automatically with no thinking required. And it’s essential in maintaining eye health.

Fun facts about blinking

Your eyelids are designed to protect your eyes from foreign matter. Blinking protects your eye by closing it to keep out dust, irritants, very bright light, and foreign objects.

Blinking also helps to supply the eye with nutrients and oxygen—working like windshield wipers to spread lubricant.

On average, an adult will blink between 15 to 20 times each minute. You blink between 5.2 and 7.1 million times a year.

You blink more when you are talking, nervous, or in pain. If it is windy or there is an increase in pollutants in the air, your blink rate will increase significantly. Your blink rate reduces when you are concentrating on your device or when you are reading.

Excessive blinking

Excessive blinking occurs when you blink more often than you want or need to. Excessive blinking does not have an exact definition but it is usually deemed excessive when the blinking interferes with everyday life.

The most common reason for excessive blinking is a problem on the surface of your eye. Irritation or discomfort will cause you to blink more frequently. Other causes of excessive blinking include:

  • Eye irritation: irritants (smoke, pollution, pollen), dry eyes, scratch, ingrown eyelash, pink eye, inflammation in your eye or eyelid
  • Eyestrain: tired and heavy eyes from concentrating on something for extended periods of time
  • Vision difficulties: nearsighted, longsighted, presbyopia
  • Mental disorders: anxiety, stress and fatigue can be triggers
  • Habitual: blinking can become a habit over time that is difficult to break
  • Seizures

Treatment for excessive blinking is tailored to the underlying cause. 

What about a staring contest?

Staring competitions have been popular with kids for years. It is a battle of wills!

As absurd as it sounds, there are actually people around the world competing in staring contests. A Chinese Naval Serviceman claimed the title of ‘King of staring’ in 2015, enduring 57 minutes and 24 seconds without a blink! Fu Jun trained his eyes over time. He stood facing the wind and sun and gradually built up the length between his blinks.

To win a staring competition you must stare at your opponent and not break eye contact. In some variations of the challenge as well as not breaking eye contact you must not blink. This variation means the opponents are not only fighting the psychological urge to look away but also the physical discomfort.

A staring competition becomes a test of your concentration and psychological willpower!

Consequences of a reduced blink rate

What happens if you stop blinking? Damage to your eye begins almost immediately. If you don’t blink, or don’t blink frequently enough, your vision will start to get slightly blurry as your eye becomes dry. When your eye is sufficiently dry it will respond by watering. Eventually, your eyes will become very uncomfortable.

What is actually happening to the structures in your eye?

  • Your eyes dry out because your tear film isn’t being replenished. This leads to eye pain and blurry vision.
  • Your cornea, the clear window in the front of the eye, can become swollen. Your cornea gets oxygen from the tear film which you spread over your eye each time you blink. If you simply blink less often, your cornea should still get the oxygen it requires. But if you don’t blink at all, the lack of oxygen leads to corneal swelling and blurred vision.
  • Your risk of eye infection increases. The debris that stays in your eye combined with a lack of oxygen increases your chance of developing an eye infection.

A change in your blink rate is often not a serious issue. But when in combination with other symptoms of infection, disease, or an underlying condition it is wise to seek advice from your eye doctor.

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