Blinking is good for your eyes. It keeps them clean and makes sure they don’t get too dry.
The number of times you blink changes with age. Newborns only blink about two times a minute. That number goes up as they grow. Teens blink around 15 times a minute. It’s about the same in adults.
Excessive blinking is when you blink more than normal. It may happen all the time or every once in a while. It’s most common in children, but it also happens in adults. Here’s what you need to know.
Lots of things can lead to excessive blinking. They include:
- An ingrown eyelash
- A scratch on your eye (corneal abrasion)
- Dust or something else in your eye
- Dry eye
- Eye infection or pinkeye (conjunctivitis)
- Eyelid spasms (blepharospasm)
- Facial tic or habit
- Eyelids that didn’t form the right way
- Untreated vision problems
- Uneven or crossed eyes (exotropia)
- Neurological or psychological problems
It doesn’t happen often, but more serious conditions could also be the cause. They include:
- Wilson’s disease, a rare genetic condition caused by too much copper in your body
- Multiple sclerosis, a disease of the brain and spinal cord
- Tourette’s syndrome, a condition that causes you to make uncontrollable movements or sounds
There will likely be other signs if you have a more serious condition.
You naturally blink more when you’re in pain. Bright light and changes in temperature also cause it. You blink more when you’re talking or nervous, too. But if it happens a lot, you should see an eye doctor, also called an ophthalmologist. The doctor will:
- Carefully look at your eyes to see how they line up and move
- Look closely at the surface of your eye with a special microscope called a slit lamp
- Ask you to read an eye chart to check your vision
They may send you to another kind of doctor for more testing if they think it’s more than an eye problem.
Excessive blinking isn’t usually connected to a serious health condition. In this case, it may go away on its own without treatment. If you need treatment, the options depend on the cause.
The doctor might prescribe eyedrops, ointment, or other medicines if your excessive blinking is related to an eye injury, infection, allergies, or inflammation. A patch might also help your eye heal.
If you have an ingrown eyelash or something else is in your eye, the doctor can get it out. Glasses may help if it’s a vision problem, like nearsightedness. They may recommend eye exercises or surgery if your eyes need to be straightened.