Feeds

Why do babies blink less often than adults?

Bright eyes

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Also in this week's column:

Why do babies blink less often than adults?

Asked by Cade Stevens of Nashville, Tennessee

Babies blink less often than adults. In normal circumstances, newborns blink at the rate of less than two times per minute. In childhood, the blink rate rises. Thus, by about age 14, the blink rate rises to about 10 blinks per minute. In adulthood, the blink rate remains at about 10 to 15 times per minute.

This rate changes with attention, stress, excitement, eye irritation, and amount of sleep. Generally, when one has had more sleep, one needs to blink less. There is widespread variation in blink rate among individuals. There may be a genetic component in this. There may also be a learned cultural component as well.

Blinking also may play an undetermined role in body language as it does in our non-human primate cousins. The main physiological purpose of blinking is to spread tears over the surface of the eyes.

According to Dr Samuel Salamon of the Cataract Eye Centre of Cleveland, Ohio, it is puzzling as to why babies don't suffer from dry eyes due to their lack of blinking. It could be that since babies sleep so much, and thus spend so much time with their eyes shut, perhaps dry eyes are less of a problem for them.

Also, Dr Salamon points out, a baby's eyes have smaller fissures compared with an adult's eyes. That is, much less of the front of a baby's eye is exposed to the outside world - and to its dirt, dust, and brightness - due to the shape of the infant skull. A baby's eyelid openings are smaller in relation to the eye compared with the eyelid openings of adults. Thus, a baby's eyes may need less lubrication.

Babies do not manufacture tears during their first month of life.

A dry cornea can affect the outcome of today's high tech eye scans using tomography (OCT). According to Dr DM Stein and five colleagues from the Department of Ophthalmology at the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, writing in the June 2006 Opthalmology, corneal dryness affects OCT scan quality and measured nerve fibre layer thickness after only a short exposure time. What's to be done? They write: "It is recommended to instruct those who are scanned to blink frequently or to instill artificial tears."

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.