(Fox News) – Cosmeticians probably won’t agree, but scientists say eyelashes have an optimal length: a third of the width of the eye.

This ratio helps keep the eyes wet, according to a new study that attempts to answer the question: What are eyelashes for anyway?

“They’ve been hypothesized to act as sun shades, dust catchers and blink-reflex triggers,” said David Hu, a mechanical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. “But there’s been no really systematic study of what their true benefits are.” [The 12 Weirdest Animal Discoveries]

Rather than poke around the eyes of live snow leopards and wild boars, Hu and his colleagues went to see the lashes on animal pelts in the basement of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. They took measurements of the eye openings and lashes of a diverse group of 22 mammals, ranging from the Amur hedgehog, whose beady little eyes are just a fraction of a centimeter in diameter, to giraffes, whose eyes are about 1.5 inches (4 cm) across.

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