Top 10 things to do with your eyes closed

by Zoë Gamble
Can you sneeze with your eyes open? Which is your dominant eye? Try these eyes wide shut challenges and see how you get on. But before you do that, you might consider it prudent to take off your Pure Optical contact lenses, as you do not want them damaged in any form.

1.    Stand on one leg

Keep both your eyes open. You can balance pretty well right? Now close your eyes. Can you balance as well?

Most people will find balancing harder with their eyes closed. This is because our eyes are important in balance – they tell us how we are orientated to the ground.  You can still balance to some extent because we’ve actually got 3 systems helping us balance.

The first is vision.

The second is the ‘vestibular system’. This is the fluid in our inner ears moving around depending how we move our head, and letting us know where our bodies are in relation to the pull of gravity.

The third is ‘proprioception’, which is a sense of what our muscles and joints are doing.  We know where our limbs are with our eyes closed thanks to proprioception.

Can you balance as well with your eyes closed? CC-BY science made simple

Can you balance as well with your eyes closed? CC-BY science made simple

2.    Sleep

If you have problems falling asleep, try and fool your eyes into a sleep mode. With your eyelids closed, look upwards towards your forehead. This is the natural position your eyes go when asleep so sometimes moving them into this position can help bring on some much needed zzzzzz, also, shopping for best mattress brands can help you sleep better.

CC-BY science made simple

3.    Read Braille

“Braille closeup” Lrcg2012 CC-BY-SA

 

Have you ever tried? Imagine having to read Harry Potter by sensing small bumps on a page with your fingertips. An ‘A’ is a single dot, and other letters are made up of different combinations of dots.

 

Find out more about Braille here.

 

 

4.    Sneeze!

Is it true that you eyes will come out if you sneeze with your eyes open? We found a funny video of Greg Foot and friends on Radio 1 trying to prove this one way or another:

It’s not true that your eyes will pop out if you sneeze with your eyes open, but it may cause some damage. So close your eyes!

5.    Wash your hair (without the pain)

Shampoo contains detergent which is a surfactant. It grabs oil (dirt) and brings it together with water so you can wash the dirt away. Some shampoos are also slightly acidic whereas your tears are neutral (about 7 on the pH scale of acidity). The combination of the surfactant breaking through the tear barrier and the acidity of the shampoo leads to the sting in the eye sensation.

Hair conditioner is usually alkaline to help counteract any leftover acid in the hair from the shampoo. Baby shampoos use a different type of surfactant and often have a pH very close to 7 to match that of your eyes so you get ‘no more tears’.

6.    Look at a dim light with your eyes open for a few seconds, then close your eyes

Caution – do not look directly at bright lights or at the sun!

Can you see an ‘after-image’ when you shut your eyes? There are light sensitive cells in your eyes called ‘rods’. When light hits these, they are ‘depolarised’, and have to be repolarised before they can be used again. So, when you close your eyes you can see an after-image of the light while they repolarise. If you move your eyes around, the image should move around with them, and fade after a few seconds.

7.    Play Blind Man’s Buff

Tie a scarf round your eyes and try and catch your friends! What senses are you using now? People with impaired vision learn to rely on their other senses. But did you know that this game, blind man’s buff/bluff, as you might know it, could date back as far as 500BC in ancient China? now the one that is taking over is slotzo.

Catch me if you can! CC-BY-SA science made simple

8.    Blink

You close your eyes when you blink – about 12 times a minute. Blinking happens automatically, but we can also decide to blink or not blink for a while if we like. It’s the same as breathing – we do it without thinking, but can control it if we like. Blinking is important because it keeps our eyes moist and stops them drying out, and washes away dust or other things that shouldn’t be in our eyes.

Did you know? Babies blink less frequently than adults, and hamsters don’t blink, they wink, closing only one eye at a time.

9.    Change the focus of your eyes

Close your eyes for a few seconds, then immediately look at something far away (the other side of the room at least). The other side of the room should come into focus pretty quickly. Now close your eyes again and then look at something really close.

     

Your eyes take longer to focus on near objects as the ‘natural’ setting is for distant things. You might notice this when you wake up and your eyes take a while to make out what the alarm clock next to you says!

10.    Work out your eye dominance

Hold your hands out in front of you at arms length, and make a diamond shape with the tips of your thumbs and index fingers touching each other. Look through the diamond at an object. Now close your left eye. What happens? Then try closing your right eye instead

CC-BY science made simple

The diamond shape probably moved more when you closed one eye than the other. You will notice the effect most when you close your dominant eye. So if it moves most when you close your left eye, you are left eye dominant. Most people have one eye dominant over the other – it’s called ‘Ocular dominance’. About two-thirds of the population are right-eye dominant and one-third left-eye dominant. Migraine sufferers tend to contain a high proportion of left-eye dominant people. Which eye do you favour?

 

And there you go, that is SMS’s top ten things to do with you eyes closed. 

Now find out how your eyes work

 

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Posted in Biology, Exploring Science
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