Spontaneous blinking from a tribological viewpoint

Heiko Pult*, Samuele G.P. Tosatti, Nicholas D. Spencer, Jean Michel Asfour, Michael Ebenhoch, Paul J. Murphy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mechanical forces between the lid wiper and the ocular surface, and between a contact lens and the lid wiper, are reported to be related to dry eye symptoms. Furthermore, the mechanical forces between these sliding partners are assumed to be related to the ocular signs of lid-wiper epitheliopathy (LWE) and lid-parallel conjunctival folds (LIPCOF). Recent literature provides some evidence that a contact lens with a low coefficient of friction (CoF) improves wearing comfort by reducing the mechanical forces between the contact lens surface and the lid wiper. This review discusses the mechanical forces during spontaneous blinks from a tribological perspective, at both low and high sliding velocities, in a healthy subject. It concludes that the coefficient of friction of the ocular surfaces appears to be strongly comparable to that of hydrophilic polymer brushes at low sliding velocity, and that, with increased sliding velocity, there is no wear at the sliding partners' surfaces thanks to the presence of a fluid film between the two sliding partners. In contrast, in the case of dry eye, the failure to maintain a full fluid film lubrication regime at high blinking speeds may lead to increased shear rates, resulting in deformation and wear of the sliding pairs. These shear rates are most likely related to tear film viscosity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124
Pages (from-to)236-249
Number of pages14
JournalOcular Surface
Issue number3
Early online date16 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • blinking
  • coefficient of friction
  • contact lens
  • lid wiper
  • tear film
  • tribology
  • viscosity


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