If eyes are the windows to the soul, then eyelashes are the curtains. Eyelashes have long been a sign of beauty. They are curled, they are wished on, and they help us to express emotions. But what are eyelashes? Do they have a useful purpose? The answer is surprising.

What are Eyelashes?

Mammals are the only animals to have eyelashes. Much like the hair on your head, eyelashes are also made of protein. They are composed of 97% keratin and 3% water.

You have around 200 eyelashes on your upper lid and 100 lashes on your lower lid. They are usually around ten millimeters long, though they may sometimes grow longer. Eyelashes naturally fall out after a period of about ninety days, and between one to five lashes fall out each day. As you may already have noticed, they’ll grow back on their own, usually within a month to six weeks.

What Have They Done for me Lately?

Serving as a protective barrier, eyelashes help form a seal every time you close your eyes. When your eyes are open, the curved shape of your lashes help move moisture, like tears, sweat, or even rain along. They also serve as a shield against the sun, providing a little extra protection against the sun’s rays, and help a softer light to filter through—though they are still no substitute for the protective power of UV-coated sunglasses.

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology found that eyelashes that are one-third the width of the eye (as in people), reduce airborne deposits on the eye by half—and reduced evaporation in half as well.

Like the whiskers of a cat, eyelashes can help sense when something is too close to your eye, and alert the eyelids to close, in this way keeping the eye protected. Those fine hairs can feel a change in vibration and react fast, sweeping aside dust or sand in the air. Two glands in particular, the Moll and Zeis, help keep lash follicles free of bacteria and debris, but sometimes they become clogged and infected.

Eyelash Issues

If the eyelid becomes inflamed, and scales appear on the eyelashes as they begin to fall out, it could be due to a bacterial overgrowth, or a skin condition, called blepharitis. It is not contagious, but it is uncomfortable. For some people, it can cause blurred vision and inflamed eyes.

What can you do? To keep your eyes healthy, always remove makeup products each evening. Yet sometimes that isn’t enough. If you frequently battle dry eyes, whether it is due to blepharitis, or too much time on a computer, it might be time to try something else.

EyeCare 20/20 boasts a new Dry Eye Center with the TearLab Osmolarity System and the MiBoThermoflo therapeutic treatment device, the latest in chronic dry eye treatment. It is 80% effective at relieving the nagging symptoms of dry eye. You don’t have to suffer any longer.

Contact EyeCare 20/20 to schedule an appointment with the new Dry Eye Center—and get your dry eye symptoms back under control.

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