We have investigated the relationship between corneal sensitivity and blinking patterns. Using a group of 9 young normal subjects, measurements were made of blink patterns, central and peripheral corneal sensitivity and lid margin sensitivity both before and after use of topical corneal anaesthetic, proxymetacaine hydrochloride (Alcaine). Blink patterns were recorded through concealed filming and were later analysed in terms of blink frequency and the type of blinks (proportion of complete, incomplete, twitch and forced blinks). Blink rate was significantly lower following anaesthetic administration, but the relative proportion of blink types remained unchanged. We speculate that one of the factors responsible for normal involuntary blinks is the imminent break-up of the tear film which is sensed by the cornea.