Excessive Eye Blinking: Blinking is a natural reflex that helps keep the eyes lubricated and protects them from irritants. Most people blink around 15 to 20 times per minute. However, some people experience excessive blinking, which is blinking more frequently than normal. Excessive eye blinking can result from various factors and may point to an underlying condition. This article explores the symptoms, causes, and home remedies for excessive blinking.
Symptoms of Excessive Eye Blinking
Here are some of the common symptoms associated with frequent blinking:
Frequent Closing and Opening of the Eyes
This is the most obvious symptom. People who excessively blink will find themselves blinking a lot more than what is considered normal. The rate of blinking may exceed 20 or 30 times per minute.
Excessive blinking is often accompanied by a feeling of irritation, dryness, burning, or grittiness in the eyes. This uncomfortable sensation tends to worsen throughout the day.
Some people may experience watery eyes, excessive tear production, and frequent blinking. This is the body’s response to irritation caused by excessive blinking.
Forceful, uncontrollable contractions or twitching of the eyelids can occur with excessive eye blinking. This may manifest as brief flickering movements of the eyelids.
Straining the eyes through frequent blinking can sometimes trigger headaches or worsen existing headaches. The location is usually around the forehead.
Difficulty in Keeping Eyes Open
People who struggle with excessive blinking may find it hard to keep their eyes open for long periods. There is an urge to close and reopen the eyes constantly.
Excessive blinking can momentarily disrupt vision and make objects appear blurry after each blink. It may also cause difficulty with reading.
Causes and Risk Factors for Excessive Blinking
Some potential causes and risk factors associated with increased eye blinking include:
Insufficient tear production or abnormally rapid evaporation of tears is one of the most common reasons for frequent blinking. Blinking helps rewet the dry eye surface.
Eye Injuries and Irritation
Injuries, foreign particles, makeup, or harsh chemicals entering the eyes can irritate the eyes and trigger excessive blinking, which is the body’s defense mechanism.
Activities requiring prolonged visual concentration like computer use, reading, or driving can cause eye fatigue and strain. Excessive blinking helps relieve the strain.
Contact Lens Use
Improperly fitted contact lenses or wearing lenses for too long can cause eye dryness and irritation that leads to frequent blinking.
Conjunctivitis and blepharitis involve inflammation of the eyelids or surface of the eyes that can induce frequent blinking.
Certain prescription and over-the-counter eye drops and drugs like antihistamines, antidepressants, and amphetamines may sometimes cause increased blinking.
Conditions like Tourette syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, seizures, strokes, and nerve damage affect nerve signaling and can trigger abnormal blinking.
Anxiety and Stress
High levels of mental stress and anxiety often manifest physically as frequent blinking. It may occur unconsciously.
In some cases, excessive blinking may become a habitual behavior that carries on out of boredom, nerves, or excitement.
Home Remedies to Reduce Excessive Blinking
Here are some self-care measures and home remedies that may provide relief from excessive blinking:
Applying a clean, warm washcloth to your closed eyelids for 10 minutes 2-3 times a day can help relax the eyelids and provide moisture if dryness is causing the frequent blinking.
Use over-the-counter artificial tear drops or gels regularly throughout the day to lubricate dry eyes and curb excessive blinking. Limit use to 4 times a day.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Alternating between hot and cold packs around the eyes for a few minutes can help reduce inflammation if infections or allergies are contributing to excessive blinking.
Gently pressing the heels of your palms over your closed eyes, looking up and down without moving your head, and rolling your eyes clockwise and anticlockwise can help strengthen your eye muscles.
Blink awareness training involves consciously trying to reduce blinking frequency, pacing your blinks, and blinking fully. This may reprogram the blinking reflex over time.
Reduce Screen Time
Cut back on computer, phone, and TV screen time which can contribute to eye fatigue and blinking. Follow the 20-20-20 rule – take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to view something 20 feet away.
Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help calm the mind and nervous system to reduce stress-induced excessive blinking.
Applying cold compresses or cotton pads soaked in chilled water or tea bags to the eyelids for 15 minutes can help with irritation and eyelid spasms.
Mix 2 parts water with 1 part hydrogen peroxide and use as eye drops up to 4 times a day to cleanse the eyes of irritants contributing to frequent blinking.
Lowering caffeine intake from coffee, energy drinks, and sodas can help minimize anxiety and nervous system stimulation that may cause excessive blinking.
When to See a Doctor
Consult an ophthalmologist or optometrist if:
- Excessive blinking persists beyond a week or two
- It is accompanied by eye pain, impaired vision, or headaches
- You wear contact lenses
- There is discharge, swelling, or redness in the eyes
- Blinking occurs with involuntary movements or verbal tics
- It disrupts daily activities like reading and driving
- Home remedies do not provide adequate relief
The eye doctor can pinpoint the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment ranging from eye drops and ointments to prescription medications, injections, or surgery for neurological causes.
FAQs Related to Excessive Blinking
Is excessive blinking normal?
Blinking up to 15-20 times per minute is considered normal. Blinking more frequently than regularly is considered excessive and often indicates an underlying eye or medical condition.
Why do eyes blink excessively when tired?
Fatigue and tiredness cause the eyes and eyelids to work harder to remain open. This triggers the blinking reflex more often to moisten the eyes. Staring at screens when tired also contributes to eye strain and irritation leading to increased blinking.
Can anxiety cause frequent blinking?
Yes, anxiety absolutely can manifest as excessive blinking. Stress triggers the sympathetic nervous system which can stimulate involuntary rapid blinking. It may occur without conscious control.
Is excessive eye blinking dangerous?
Excessive blinking on its own is not dangerous. But it can greatly impair vision and quality of life. Severe cases that do not respond to treatment may require injecting botulinum toxin to temporarily paralyze the blinking muscles.
Can blinking too much damage your eyes?
Frequent forceful blinking won’t directly damage the eyes but it can cause secondary damage over time. The friction from excessive blinking can irritate the cornea. Loss of focus and impaired vision from frequent blinking may increase eye strain.
Does excessive blinking indicate a nutritional deficiency?
While blinking excessively is not directly linked to nutritional deficiencies, some deficiencies may create symptoms that lead to increased blinking. For instance, omega-3 deficiency and dry eyes or vitamin D deficiency and headache.
How do you stop excessive blinking?
Treat any underlying root causes for the frequent blinking. Lubricating eye drops, warm compresses, blink training, eye exercises, and stress management techniques may help reduce excessive blinking episodes. See a doctor if it persists.
Blinking is a vital eye function that keeps the eyes moisturized and protected. However excessive blinking that occurs more than 20 times per minute can significantly impact vision and daily activities. It often arises from dry eyes, irritation, eye strain, infections, medications, or neurological issues. Managing underlying causes and following home remedies like eye hydration, blink training, eye exercises, and warm compresses can help reduce excessive eye blinking. Seek medical advice if symptoms fail to improve or worsen. Addressing frequent blinking is key to maintaining eye health and comfort.
Mustafa Al Mahmud is a passionate medical writer and health enthusiast. He is excited to share his knowledge and make reliable health information more accessible through Quick Medico. Mustafa aims to write about common diseases, medications, wellness topics, and the latest health research in easy-to-understand language. He believes clear and accurate health communication empowers readers to take charge of their well-being. In his free time, Mustafa enjoys hiking, cooking, and spending time with his family.