Finally! The optimum eyelash length, revealed

Sure, it might be cool to have a cure for cancer or see Aids ended in our lifetime. Maybe people with neurodegenerative diseases could be given a sliver of scientific hope. But I think we can all agree that there’s one field of research that’s truly important for the future of humanity: optimal eyelash length.

Well, now we can all stop obsessing, because the answers are in. (I tease, but it’s actually potentially useful info from both a health and environmental perspective – no, really.)

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers sent a student to measure the eyes and eyelashes of different species at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. This showed that, with the exception of elephants, all of the animals had the same eyelash length: one-third the width of the eye. In order to confirm why that might be, the research team, led by assistant professor David Hu, built a model of an eye.

They used an acrylic plate, with a 2 cm diameter aluminium dish for the cornea. Mesh around the dish created the effect of eyelashes. They then used a wind tunnel to replicate the level of air flow our eyes deal with every day. Altering the length of the mesh had an effect on air flow around the ‘cornea’, with longer lashes reducing the flow and pushing it away from the eye, keeping it from drying out. If the lashes became too long and heavy, however, they formed a cylinder that pulled air and dust toward the eye.

The researchers concluded that this means false lashes are something most people should only wear occasionally – although they could perhaps help treat chronic dry eye issues for people with short lashes. Looking beyond our faces, this knowledge could also lead to the development of lash-type filaments to protect photographic sensors, solar panels, and robots in dusty environments, ensuring they last longer.

Diane Shipley