Research

How Eyelashes Work

New research shows that eyelashes divert airflow around the eye, serving as a passive filter that reduces dust collection and controls evaporation. Mammal hairs in places like the nose act as ram filters that trap the particles that hit them and which require regular cleaning via sneezing. Eyelashes, on the other hand, prevent dust collection by altering airflow at the surface of the eye. At the optimal length of roughly 1/3rd the width of an eye, eyelashes create a stagnation zone near the eye surface that forces air to travel above rather than through the eyelashes. This results in lower shear stress and lower flow speeds at the eye surface, both of which help reduce evaporation and shield the eye from dust. Lashes can get too long, though; the researchers found that longer lashes tended to channel higher flow speeds toward the eye surface, leading to faster evaporation rates. Thus, donning longer fake eyelashes may dry out your eyes. (Image credit: G. Diaz Fornaro; research credit: G. Amador et al.; via skunkbear)

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