The Way Eyes Work


Eyes are an amazing part of your body and not just because of what they do helping you see. The are also fascinating be because of the way eyes work. Here are 20 facts about how your eyes function.
Colorful eye - the way eyes work

      1. The pupil dilates 45% when looking at something pleasant.

2. An eye’s lens is quicker than a camera’s.

3. Each eye contains 107 million cells that are light sensitive.

4. The light sensitivity of rod cells is about 1,000 times that of cone cells.

5. While it takes some time for most parts of your body to warm up their full potential, your eyes are always active.

6. Each of your eyes has a small blind spot in the back of the retina where the optic nerve attaches. You don’t notice the hole in your vision because your eyes work together to fill in each other’s blind spot.

7. The human eye can only make smooth motions if it’s actually tracking a moving object.

8. People generally read 25% slower from a computer screen compared to paper.

9. The eyes can process about 36,000 bits of information each hour.

10. Your eye will focus on about 50 things per second.

11. Eyes use about 65% or your brainpower – more than any other part of your body.

12. Images that are sent to your brain are actually backwards and upside down.

13. Your brain has to interpret the signals your eyes send in order for you to see. Optical illusions occur when your eyes and brain can’t agree.optical illusion - the way eyes work

14. Your pupils can change in diameter from 1 to 8 millimeters, about the size of a chickpea.

15. You see with your brain, not your eyes. Our eyes function like a camera, capturing light and sending data back to the brain.

16. We have two eyeballs in order to give us depth perception – comparing two images allows us to determine how far away an object is from us.

17. It is reported that men can read fine print better than women can.

18. The muscles in the eye are 100 times stronger than they need to be to perform their function.

19. Everyone has one eye that is slightly stronger than the other.

20. In the right conditions and lighting, humans can see the light of a candle from 14 miles away.

Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer. CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

20 Facts About Eye Color and Blinking


Eye color is one of the first things a person notices about another person, but blinking is so automatic we rarely think about it. Here are some intriguing facts about eye color and blinking:

1. The world’s most common eye color is brown.

2. Brown eyes are actually blue underneath.

3. Melanin affects the color of your eyes so brown eyes have more melanin than blue eyes.
Person with different colored eyes - eye color and blinking
4. Heterochromia is when you are born with two differently colored eyes.

5. Blue-eyed people share a common ancestor with every other blue-eyed person in the world.

6. We blink more when we talk.

7. It is impossible to sneeze with your eye open.

8. The average person blinks 12 times per minute or about 10,000 blinks per day.

9. The eye is the fastest muscle in the body – in the blink of an eye. They are also the most active muscles in the body.

10. A blink usually lasts 100 to 150 milliseconds making it possible to blink five times in a second.

11. You blink less when you’re reading.

12. Infants blink 10 times less than adults.

13. One blink isn’t always the same as the next.

14. Our eyes close automatically to protect us from perceived dangers.

15. The older we are the less tears we produce.

16. Tears are made of three main components – fat, mucous and water. This is so tears won’t evaporate.

17. Your nose gets runny when you cry as the tears drain into your nasal passages.

18. You blink on average 4,200,000 times a year.

19. Tears kill bacteria because they contain lysozyme, a fluid that can kill 90 to 95 percent of all bacteria.

20. A newborn baby will cry, but not produce any tears. Babies do not produce tears until they are around six weeks old.

Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

Dry Eye and Tear Dysfunction


With an aging population and increasing awareness of the condition, dry eye has become one of the hottest topics in eye care today. There have been numerous advances in our understanding of the condition as well as several breakthroughs in treatment.
eye drops in eye
Lets start with the most fundamental question. Why do we have tears? Tears serve many functions, but perhaps the most important is that they create a perfectly smooth optical surface at the front of the eye to allow sharp focusing. The sharper your vision the more quickly you can spot and run from a predator or find a supply of food. Hence, a stable tear film is critical for survival. As a result, the body has evolved many ways to help keep the tears healthy and intact.

When I describe the tears to a patient I describe it as a structure. Tears have a foundation that anchors them to the eye’s surface, an elastic protective support section not that different than the walls in a building and even a roof, just like a house has. Like a house, problems with any structural part can adversely impact the entire building.

Over the past few years the most important breakthroughs in understanding dry eye have focused on the outer portion of the tear structure – what you might think of as the roof. When a roof develops holes and it rains, water gets in which can destroy the entire structure of the house. With the tears, holes in the “roof” can let moisture evaporate causing the structure to collapse and become unstable.

The outer layer of the tears consist of lipid or oil produced by the meibomian glands – glands that run radially through the lids and express small amounts of complex oil with each blink. When these glands work properly, the oils they produce coat the tears, preventing evaporation and stabilizing and lubricating. When the glands become blocked – which can occur for a number of reasons including decreased blinking due to excessive computer use, the lack of oil can lead to a down spiral of damage to the eye’s surface with symptoms that can range from annoying to life altering.

Lets talk for a moment about symptoms. We know that dry eye is progressive and, if left untreated will worsen over time, so the sooner we know about it, the sooner treatment can begin. I am often surprised that even with increased awareness, most patients don’t recognize that they suffer from dry eye until the condition is fairly advanced. One reason is that many people think that the symptoms of dry eye are a normal and expected part of aging. For the most part they are not. If you experience, burning, irritation, unstable vision, grittiness or any change in your vision or eye comfort, you should bring this to the attention of your eye care practitioner.

One of the most common signs of dry eye is excessive tearing. Patients often complain that their eyes are too wet and I have to explain that the excessive tearing is the eye’s way of trying to correct for dryness and prevent further damage. Unfortunately excessive tearing further destabilizes the tears and makes matters worse.

Lipiview System
Lipiview System

Perhaps the greatest advance today is the recognition that meibomian gland dysfunction causes or contributes to nearly 90% of all dry eye. Many eye care providers are adding high tech tools like meibography which can show the actual state of the meibomian glands like an X-Ray and LipiView which measure the actual thickness of the lipid layer of the tears. As a result diagnostic ability has improved.

Lipiflow Device
Lipiflow Device

Recently introduced eyedrops like Alcon’s Systane Balance and Allergan’s Refresh Optive Advanced Formula drops can help restore absent or deficient oils in the tears. And new treatments including moist heat goggles like Tranquileyes by EyeEco can help improve comfort. LipiFlow, a technology pioneered by TearScience, offers a breakthrough treatment that can clear blocked and reset meibomian glands. It can produce amazing improvement.

There have also been significant advances for contact lens wearers suffering from dry eye. Scleral lenses are especially helpful for patients with advanced dry eye who also must wear contact lenses to see, such as those who have keratoconus. The large scleral lens serves as a barrier that protects the eye and provides sharp stable vision. In fact, scleral lens designs are used as a treatment for severe dry eye and ocular surface disease.

Finally, if you have been diagnosed with dry eye previously and are still suffering despite treatment, this may be a good time to return to your eye care provider to discuss your condition and explore the possibility of new treatment options.

AArthur B. Epstein, OD, FAAO
co-founder of Phoenix Eye Care
and the Dry Eye Center of Arizona
Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry
American Board of Certification in Medical Optometry
Chief Medical Editor of Optometric Physician™