The Reason Why We Have Eyelashes

Eyelashes can be an amazing asset to have, but when you think about it, why do we have these long whisker-like things protruding from the edges of our eyes? Humans from long ago had way more hairy body parts than the modern-day human, but even as we've lost much of our body hair, eyelashes (and eyebrows) remain. 

Yes, they're pretty cool, and they look stunning framing your peepers, but do they serve any purpose other than looking nice (and occasionally falling out and getting into your eyeball)? According to ophthalmologists, there are a few functional reasons they are still hanging around our eyes, and even though they do fall out on occasion, why they're not likely to go anywhere any time soon.

Eyelashes are as useful as they are attractive

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, eyelashes actually work as "human whiskers." They have a few very important functions, such as keeping dust and debris out of the eyeball, and they also act as sensors and help you detect when something is getting very close to your eye, such as the whiskers do on your pet dog or cat. 

Ivan Schwab, MD, professor of ophthalmology at University of California, Davis, notes that eyelashes are pretty unique when it comes to looking at the rest of the hair that resides on the human body. "Healthy lashes are believed to never go gray," he said. "They are among the shortest hairs on the body with the longest lifespan. And the melanocytes (pigment cells) at the base of eyelash follicles rarely, if ever, become malignant."

Eyelashes also help keep the eye itself moisturized by reducing tear evaporation by up to 50 percent. So yes, you still have to blink to keep your eye lubed up, but if you didn't have eyelashes, you'd have to do it twice as often. Can you imagine?