If you are squinting while you're reading this, stop right now ! because according to US researchers you are blinking less and in danger of irritating your eyes.
They say that people who squint while staring at computer screens also blink less than normal, which dries and irritates their eyes.
In a study of 10 college students the researchers at Ohio State University found that the more they squinted, the less they blinked.
James Sheedy, a professor of optometry who led the study,says that the less they blinked, the more their eyes ached or burned.
Apparently all the students had perfect vision, and just a small amount of squinting reduced blink rates from 15 blinks a minute to 7.5 blinks a minute.
Sheedy and colleagues say that people tend to squint when they read a book or a computer display, and that squinting makes the blink rate drop down.
As blinking rewets the eyes, if a job requires a lot of reading or other visually intense work, a person may be blinking far less than normal, which may cause eye strain and dry eye.
It seems that although people squint for good reasons, it can for example make objects appear more clearly defined and it can cut glare, blinking nevertheless dries the eyes and can irritate them, although the effects are temporary.
The study is published in the journal Optometry and Vision Science.