Dry eye disease (DED) poses a significant public health concern, given its increasing prevalence and impact on patient quality of life. In addition, digital screen use is on the rise, which is known to decrease a patient’s blink frequency and completeness. This compromises meibum secretion and distribution, causing tear film instability and, ultimately, DED.

Researchers recently found that blinking exercises can modify poor blinking patterns and improve dry eye symptomology, with modest changes in objective measures of tear film quality.

This study evaluated 41 patients with dry eye symptoms who performed an average of 25.6 10-second cycles of blinking exercises every 20 minutes during waking hours each day for four weeks. A team assessed symptoms using the five-item Dry Eye Questionnaire (DEQ-5) and Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), blinking patterns and tear film and ocular surface parameters at baseline and on day 28.

The investigators observed improvements in the DEQ-5 (11±4 to 7±3), OSDI (36±18 to 22±17), non-invasive tear film break-up time (6.5±2.4s to 8.1±4.8s) and proportion of incomplete blinks (54±36% to 34±29%). They reported no improvements, however, in tear meniscus height or tear film lipid layer thickness.

“Incorporating such routines into clinical care recommendations may improve blinking habits and help protect against the impact of digital device use on tear film quality and DED onset and evolution,” the study authors concluded in their paper.

Kim AD, Muntz A, Lee J, et al. Therapeutic benefits of blinking exercises in dry eye disease. Cont Lens Ant Eye. May 12, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].