Eyelashes aren’t a part of our bodies that we regularly think about — until one of them comes loose and falls into your eye. That’s when eyelashes transform from a blip off our radar to a full-blown nuisance as we attempt to get the fallen lash out of our eye.

    Have you ever thought about the function of eyelashes though? Are they on our bodies for natural survival purposes, or are they for beauty and attraction? Cosmetic companies would have you believe eyelashes are for beauty, and while they can certainly be groomed for glamour, their primary purpose is to protect our eyes.


    Experts generally agree that eyelashes protect our eyes by blocking dust, dirt, and other small particles. Since they’re extended out front of your eye, most foreign objects approaching your eye are likely to be swept away or stuck in your eyelash. Eyelashes are also an early warning system to danger approaching the eye.

    Try an experiment: take one finger and carefully run it across your eyelashes. How did it feel? Are they more sensitive to touch than your skin or other parts of your body? They should be. Eyelashes are highly sensitive, so if your eye is exposed to danger, their response to a physical presence should trigger a quick reflex to close your eyes before any harm comes to them.


    Eyelashes are one-third the length of the eyes on all people, and most other mammals as well. This specific length is set for an important purpose, but it’s not for protection against dust or dirt. If your eyelashes were longer than one-third the length of your eye, they may be able to pick up more dust and dirt than our regular eyelashes. So, why are they not longer?

    They are short for a good reason: to promote optimal airflow and prevent evaporation.

    Humans occasionally need to deal with fast airflow, either from high winds or running or driving with the windows down. In order to function properly, your eyes need to maintain a layer of moisture on their surface. This layer can dry out and strain your eyes if airflow isn’t controlled.

    Your eyelashes are at the perfect length to retain moisture and block evaporation. If they were too short, they would be unable to protect against evaporation. If they were too long, they would actually draw out more moisture and cause stress for your eyes (plus it would be hard to see).


    Your eyelashes play an important role in protecting your vision. They can become infected or the symptoms of some illnesses may lead to your eyelashes falling out. If you believe your eyelashes are infected or aren’t protecting your eyes properly, you should visit your optometrist immediately.

    No matter the length of your eyelashes, you need to your eyes regularly examined. Please contact Silverstein Eye Care Centers to make an appointment for an eye exam. We can serve you at our convenient location in Independence/Kansas City at (816) 358-3600.

    Posted July 21, 2015 by Silverstein Eye Centers
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