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Blinking Enhances Visual Signal Strength, New Study Finds

Blinking Enhances Visual Signal Strength, New Study Finds

April 17, 2024

Researchers at the University of Rochester have discovered a new benefit of blinking—it enhances visual signal strength, in addition to its known role of keeping the eyes moist. This finding was revealed in a study led by Bin Yang, Janis Intoy, and Michele Rucci, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study involved a group of young adults who were monitored using a high-resolution eye-tracking device as they viewed images of varying contrast. It has been generally understood that blinking helps to moisten the eyes and clear away debris, while also aiding in maintaining focus and processing visual data in manageable segments.

However, this study highlights that blinking also plays a crucial role in maintaining visual acuity by modulating the light intensity that hits the retina, thereby strengthening the visual signals.

The research demonstrates that this enhancement occurs during both involuntary and voluntary blinks. The team also noted that blinking helps reformat the visual information sent to the brain, facilitating ongoing visual processing.

The results suggest that the act of blinking does far more for vision than previously acknowledged, helping not only to prevent dryness and remove irritants but also to sharpen visual perception.


Bin Yang et al, Eye blinks as a visual processing stage, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2024). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2310291121