A person can do blinking exercises to help treat dry eyes. This may involve closing the eyes and squeezing the eyelids shut over a set time.

Dry eyes are one of the most common causes of visits to the eye doctor. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe, and treatments are available depending on the severity of the symptoms.

This article examines blinking exercises for dry eye, alternative treatments, preventions, and frequently asked questions.

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Blinking exercises can help improve the symptoms of dry eyes.

One 2021 study involved 54 participants with dry eye symptoms. They each performed a 10-second cycle of blinking exercises every 20 minutes during their waking hours for 4 weeks.

The blinking exercises in this study consisted of three steps:

  1. Close the eyes normally for 2 seconds.
  2. Close the eyes normally again for 2 seconds.
  3. Squeeze the eyelids together tightly for 2 seconds.

The study concluded that blinking exercises could help modify poor blinking patterns and improve the symptoms of dry eyes.

A person may also want to try this eye exercise:

  1. Relax.
  2. Close the eyes.
  3. Pause for 3 seconds.
  4. Open the eyes slightly wider than normal.
  5. Pause in the wide-open position for a moment.
  6. Close the eyes.

They should repeat these steps 10 times. A person may wish to do these exercises several times throughout the day.

Another strategy for dry eye is “blind working.” This method involves closing the eyes when a person’s vision is not required.

Compared to standard working, i.e., not closing their eyes, people who perform blind working reduce their eye fatigue and blurred vision.

However, additional research needs to verify this strategy to prevent dry eye.

Another possible strategy for dry eye and eyestrain is the 20-20-20 rule. This states that for every 20 minutes of screen time, a person should look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Although this strategy may help prevent dryness, as it promotes natural blinking, researchers have not fully investigated the effectiveness of the 20-20-20 rule for people with dry eye.

A person can also download mobile apps to get reminders to blink when working on a screen.

There are several possible causes of dry eye. This means various treatment options are available to people, including the following.

Lifestyle changes

A person may wish to make certain lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of dry eyes. Lifestyle changes may include:

  • avoiding smoke
  • avoiding wind and air conditioning
  • using a humidifier to prevent the air at home or at work from becoming too dry
  • limiting screen time
  • wearing wraparound sunglasses when outside
  • drinking plenty of water
  • getting enough good quality sleep

Eye drops and medications

A person may wish to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops to help treat dry eyes.

The most common treatment for mild dry eye is a type of eye drop called artificial tears. A person can purchase these without a prescription.

People may also purchase OTC moisturizing gels and ointments to help their eyes feel better.

If a person has more serious dry eye, their doctor may prescribe cyclosporine (Restasis) or lifitegrast (Xiidra). These are types of eye drops that can help the eyes make more tears.

Tear duct plugs

Some people develop dry eyes because their tears drain too quickly from their eyes.

If this is the case, a doctor may suggest that the person put tear duct plugs into their tear ducts. These plugs may effectively keep the tears in a person’s eyes and help with their dry eyes. Some doctors may refer to these plugs as “punctal plugs.”

The researchers concluded that although punctal plugs are relatively safe, their use may occur with inflammatory eye conditions.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there are several steps a person can take to help prevent dry eye, including:

  • avoiding using a hair dryer
  • avoiding smoking
  • resting their eyes often and taking regular breaks from looking at screens
  • staying away from very warm rooms
  • adding moisture to rooms using a humidifier
  • protecting the eyes from drying wind by wearing wraparound sunglasses when outside
  • adding omega-3 fatty acids to their diet
  • using artificial tear ointments or thick eye drops before bed

Below are some frequently asked questions.

Can blinking exercises help dry eyes?

Studies show that blinking exercises can help improve the symptoms of dry eyes.

Blinking exercises can also help increase the lipid layer quality and the time it takes for tears to break up.

Do blinking exercises unblock meibomian glands?

Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is the name for a group of disorders associated with abnormalities in the meibomian glands. These are oil glands that sit along the edge of the eyelids where the eyelashes are.

The meibomian glands make oil, which is an important part of the eye’s tears. This oil makes up the outside of the tear film, keeping tears from drying too quickly.

If a person has MGD, they may develop dry eyes. Medical professionals often associate incomplete blinking with an increased risk of MGD.

This suggests that blinking exercises may be an effective treatment for MGD. However, more research is necessary to determine whether blinking exercises can help unblock meibomian glands.

How do you blink for dry eyes?

A person may wish to follow these steps to help reduce their symptoms of dry eyes:

  1. Close the eyes normally for 2 seconds.
  2. Close the eyes normally again for 2 seconds.
  3. Squeeze the eyelids together tightly for 2 seconds.

They may wish to carry these exercises out throughout the day to see beneficial results.

Blinking exercises may be an effective treatment for the symptoms of dry eyes. Other treatments for dry eyes include eye drops, medications, and tear duct plugs.

Lifestyle changes may also help prevent dry eyes. These changes may include avoiding smoke, avoiding wind and air conditioning, and taking regular breaks from looking at screens.