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Are Long Eyelashes Damaging To Eyes? Side Effects And Dangers

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Just like wearing lipstick, thick long eyelashes are a beauty trend that have stuck with us since we can remember.  Mascara wands are a staple item in make-up bags across the globe, helping us get the magic lashes we see in adverts.

But as we continue to find new ways to extend our lashes, have we considered their importance? Other than the mythical powers of granting wishes when they fall off, eyelashes actually hold a crucial role in protecting our vision, and their natural length is largely to do with this.

What do our natural eyelashes do?

Close up of woman's eye with long eyelashes
  • Eyelashes are the darkest hairs on our bodies
  • Eyelashes are the last of our hairs to turn white.  A study in the Medical Science Monitor: International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research revealed that in a study of 1,545 individuals aged between 1 and 90 years, the first white lashes appeared in participants in their 40s
  • Dr Yella Hewings-Martin for Medical News Today states the upper eyelid has between 90 to 160eyelashes, aligned neatly in five or six rows.  The lower eyelid holds 75 to 80 lashes arranged in three or four rows. Both curl in the opposite direction from each other to prevent entanglement when blinking
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    The natural length of our eyelashes and why it is important

    The length of our eyelashes is no coincidence.  In fact, it is the optimal length for diverting air, keeping the surface of the eye moist, and stopping dust from hitting our eyes.  According to a study, we share a common eyelash attribute with snow leopards, camels and just under 20 other mammalian species, which is in fact the length of our eyelashes, which is around one third of the width of the eyes.

    WebMd at Boots have stated that eyelashes sense when something is near the eye, and stimulate the blink reflex, a protective reaction.

    What does this mean for longer eyelashes?

    Dr Yella Hewings-Martin for Medical News Today states that the longer the lashes, the decrease in their ability to divert air from the eye, increasing the chances of dirt entering and damaging the eye as a result.

    The beauty side of Long Eyelashes

    Woman having eyelashes worked on

    As the obsession with eyelash length and thickness grows with the rise of eyelash extensions, we ask is it worth it? It might be worth it for your Saturday night selfie but think about the long term effects.

    Health.com emphasise the damage eyelash extensions can do:

    • Infection of the cornea or eyelid
    • The process of gluing eyelashes on can damage your natural lashes and even lead to permanent lash loss
    • Risk of allergic reactions and cost!

    Remember everyone, it’s important to consider the potential dangers eyelash extensions can cause as mascara remains the safer option to reach your long lash look, allowing you to protect your eyes better also.

    About the Author

    Mr David Allamby is the founder and medical director of Focus Clinic - the leading provider of laser eye surgery in London. Focus’ commitment is to be the #1 clinic for vision outcome results with 100% of patients achieving 20/20 vision or even better. He is one of a limited number of UK surgeons who work in laser refractive surgery full-time.


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