If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why we have those tiny, stiff hairs growing on the edges of our eyes, you’re not alone. While it’s simply just an accepted trait we’ve all got, not many people actually know the purpose of eyelashes. After all, what do they do? Why do humans even have eyelashes? These little fuzzies have become a huge beauty feature—if you’ve ever seen a Kardashian, you know what we’re talking about. Long, thick lashes practically bursting off the eyelid are a mega hit—making the fake eyelashes business quite a big one these days. But if you’ve assumed they’re simply for looks, we’re sorry to say you’re very wrong! Eyelashes actually serve a really important purpose for all people: to protect our precious eyeballs.
Seal Out Debris
So if the purpose of human’s eyelashes is to shield those peepers, what exactly are they protecting against? Things we can’t even see, such as dirt, pollen, and other airborne debris. These nearly microscopic particles can make their way into our eyes and wreak havoc. Some may be just a simple irritation, but anyone with allergies knows the woes of a pollen-filled windy day—eyes can become puffy, red, watery, and itchy, causing all-day discomfort and sometimes even pain. Other debris could potentially cause damage by scratching the eyeball or even lead to an infection. Yuck! When our eyes close, our eyelashes carry out their noble purpose by creating a seal on the top and bottom of our lids, protecting against these types of things.
Why else do people have eyelashes? They also play the important role of keeping unwanted moisture out of our eyes. If you suffer from dry eyes, this may make you groan, but hear us out—it’s not the type of moisture we need to nourish and refresh our eyes. Unwanted moisture includes sweat and rain. How do our eyelashes help stop this water from running into our eyes? They do so with their perfectly curved shape and position, which helps the moisture to run off and away from our eyeballs.
Give A Little Shade
Another purpose your eyelashes fulfill is helping to protect our eyes is by helping to filter out sunlight or other bright light that may be irritating. Sure, they’re not quite as useful as retreating into shade or throwing on a pair of sunglasses or a hat, but they help.
Signal Potential Harm
In case you aren’t yet totally convinced of how awesome eyelashes are to humans and why we have them, consider this: scientists have compared them to whiskers on a cat. Everyone knows how important a cat’s whiskers are! These thick, hair-like follicles are touch receptors. They help a cat understand more about its environment, ultimately help to protect the feline. Likewise, humans’ eyelashes are sensitive to touch. This is incredibly helpful in protecting our eyes as they act as a first defense against insects or other items that might get into our eyes and muck up, say, those lovely Air Optix Color lenses you just got. When they are touched, they cause our eye to close out of reflex, preventing anything from entering them. Pretty neat, huh? An example of this is a bug flying close to your eyes. If it gets too close and actually touched your eyelashes, that will instantly signal your brain to close your eyes, hopefully in time to stop the little annoying critter from getting any closer!
A recent study done earlier this year focused on the importance of eyelashes’ purpose to help stop airflow. We all know how important it is that our eyes stay wet and moisturized—this is a sign of healthy, happy eyes. Airflow, or wind, on the other hand, is a trigger to drying out our eyes, while also causing double-trouble by helping debris get into our eyes, as discussed earlier. But even if the wind were totally dust-free, it would still cause the problem of drying out our eyes. This study showed how eyelashes help minimize the amount of air that flows over the surface of our eyeballs. Remember, less air means more hydrated eyes.
So, now you know why people have eyelashes and what the purpose of those little wisps are. Turns out they’re basically ninjas just hanging out on our eyelids, ready to pounce on any debris that gets too close!