People blink thousands of times a day and never give it a second thought, but scientists in Germany have discovered a previously unknown way we move our eyes.
A team from the University of Tübingen in Central Germany investigated the eye motions of 11 people by attaching very fine wires to the cornea and by means of infrared tracking.
Researchers wanted to know if an eye movement called tOKN (torsional optokinetic nystagmus) happens during blinks and if tOKN created a break that allowed the components of the visual apparatus to reset with minimal disruption.
Researchers tracked eye movements by attaching tiny wires to the cornea and by tracking via infrared video. Subjects looked at a series of rotating dots. When the eye hits its mechanical limit, tOKN resets it, although imperfectly.
However, when the subjects blinked, the eye reset in a different and unexpected way. Researchers call this BARM (blink-associated resetting movement).
BARM helps reduce eye strain and the reflex happens even if the eye isn’t tracking a rotating object. It’s an important finding which will help to better understand how the eye works.