EYELASHES – When Fashion Inhibits Function


Why do we have eyelashes?

Eyelashes perform a group of important functions, although they are quite simply just short hairs that grow along the edges of our eyelids. They not only protect our eyes from potential injury and infection by keeping out particles of dust and debris, but also provide a valuable alert system triggering our eyelid to close whenever objects get too close to the eyeball.

A lesser known function of eyelashes, however, is to keep our eyes lubricated. Acting like tiny air filters around our eyes, eyelashes minimize the air flow over the ocular surface and greatly reduce tear evaporation.

Light reduction is another interesting perk enjoyed by those of us who have eyelashes, which also explains why some mammals who live in brighter climates have several rows of lashes.

Do lengthened lashes function better?

Upon studying the eyelashes of numerous humans and other mammals, scientists found that regardless of gender these helpful hairs are usually 1/3 the length of the eye itself. Experiments have proven that this is not only the optimal lash length for maximum protection from air flow, but also lengthening the eyelashes beyond that 1/3 proportion actually detracts from this protective function.

“We thought that longer lashes would prevent [tear] evaporation, but if they get really long, they cause more evaporation than if there weren’t any eyelashes at all,” says Guillermo Amador, a doctoral student at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Why mess with perfection?

Human culture has glorified the appearance of long, thick eyelashes for centuries, and the emphasis has always been specifically centered on the feminine gender. In ancient Rome, hearty female lashes were associated with good health and chastity, which interestingly strums a thread of science because certain diseases (including the venereal disease syphilis) do actually lead to eyelash loss.

Modern research claims that long eyelashes create the appearance of wider and more attractive eyes, and behavioral scientists suggest that this psychologically evokes human feelings of benevolence and affection. Evolutionary psychology also explains the appealing quality of dark eyelashes, as this emphasizes the brightness of an eye’s sclera and contrast of the ring around its iris, thus enhancing these biological indicators of health and youth.

Be careful with your eyes!

Throughout history, females have endured every imaginable method of eyelash enhancement, including needle implantation, toxic chemical adhesives, fabric strips, eyelash perms, eyelid tattoos, animal hair and plastic extensions. Mascara and eyelash extensions have steadily gained popularity, however, and can now be obtained from any mainstream makeup source.

As you only have one pair of eyes- always proceed with extreme caution while using eye cosmetics of ANY kind, and avoid enhancement products and services from unreputable sources.

For detailed eyelash enhancement safety tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, follow this link: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/eyelash-extension-facts-safety