Blinking of the eye is one of the unique way of resetting the eye. We are probably doing it everyday, but researchers have discovered a distinct newer way in which our eyes moves.
Team of researchers from the University of Tubingen in Germany has assessed movements of the eye by use of 11 subjects.
They have used tiny wires which were attached to the cornea and used infrared video tracking. Research of the same is published in eLife, in which they discovered a newer type of movement which is synchronised with blinking. Movement being discovered is helping for resetting the eye after it twists when viewing a rotating object.
Resetting of Eye:
This movement is quite similar to avoiding tiny rotations of the camera for stabilising the image being perceived. We are not able to notice the resetting of the eye in this way as it is being done automatically when we blink.
Lead Author Mohammad Khazali adding to the same says, “We were really surprised to discover this new type of eye movement and it was not what we had anticipated from the experiment. We had expected to find that another, already well known type of eye movement is synchronised to blinking.”
Thinking of it in brief, blinking is creating an interruption over the visual perception. According to one of the statistics, we are spending up to one tenth of the waking hours blinking but are noticing it hardly.
It serves an important role of lubricating the eye. It is also helping brain for obtaining small and frequent mental breaks.
tOKN: Similar to Blinking Operation
Scientists have sought out for investigating whether a reflexive and involuntary eye movement which is termed as torsional optokinetic nystagmus (tOKN) is occurring over the same way as blinking.
The theory was that this reflex is also creating a break in the visual system, while synchronising them for minimising downtime.
Eye movements of the subjects were tracked when they were viewing a rotating pattern of dots. As their eyes twisted while following the dots, they were frequently reset via tOKN.
It was done to avoid moving beyond the mechanical limits of the eye muscles. Yet, this resetting was quite imperfect and eyes gradually twisted until the muscles couldn’t twist further.
This varied among the subjects from three to eight degrees of rotation.
Once they reaches the maximum limit, eyes got reset so they no longer twisted further. This happened at the same time as that of the blinking process.
This newly discovered movement is called by the scientists as blink associated resetting movement (BARM).
Eye: Tracking the Rotating Object
Khazali adding to the same says, “The eye’s sharpest vision is enabled by a spot on the light-sensitive sheet of the retina called the fovea and this needs to stay balanced to ensure objects of interest can be scrutinised in an optimum way.”
Frequency and size of the movement is determined by how far the eyes are being deviated from the neutral position. It will be helping in reducing the strain over the eyes as they move for assessing the world around us.
In the further experiments, scientists have discovered that it even occurs when eye is not tracking the rotating object. Khazali says, “To discover such a ubiquitous phenomenon in such a well-studied part of the human body was astonishing to us and we’re very grateful to the volunteers who took part in the study.”