What’s the Point of Eyelashes?

When most people think about eyelashes, they look at these unique hairs that grow around the edge of the eyelids as something decorative or a frame for the eyes. Many women like adorning their lashes with mascara to appear more appealing and to enhance the shape of their eyes.

Eyelashes also serve a more important role for the human face that has zero to do with attractiveness. According to scientific study, eyelashes protect the eye in a few key ways, but as far as their evolutionary development, that’s still quite baffling.

Much research has been done on eyelashes among humans and animal species, and interestingly, there is a common theme. The British publication Independent Nurse cited a study where the eyelashes of 22 mammal species were examined. Some of the subjects included chimpanzees, giraffes, hedgehogs, armadillos and humans. Believe it or not, the lash length for every species was similar—all measuring about one-third of the eye’s width.

For example, Dr. David Hu from the Georgia Institute of Technology led the research with a group of scientists to study the similarity in lash length by building wind tunnels that would mimic the flow of air over an eyeball.

The L.A. Times reported that the research showed that the perfect lash length in nature was able to maintain eye moistness for a longer time and stop dust particles from landing on the surface of the eye and harming it. In other words, eyelashes serve as natural filters to keep sweat and potentially harmful elements away.

These tiny hairs also play a role in telling the eye to blink to normalize the surface; some of these instances would include bright sunlight, strong wind and dusty air.

Eyelashes begin growing in the womb as the fetus develops between the 22nd and 26th week of pregnancy.

Some biologists believe that eyelashes initially developed to help human beings use them as a communicator of expression and emotion and to draw attention to the eyes.

Most people take them for granted, but eyelashes are quite incredible for being the shortest hairs on the body with the longest lifespan.

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