Eyelashes protect the eye from foreign particles and act as sensors to let the brain know a potentially painful poking could be imminent. Contact with these feelers can trigger an eyelid-closing reflex.
Eyelash transplant surgery has been around for a decade to help burn victims and those suffering madarosis, loss of eyelashes or eyebrows. But the procedure has recently become popular among women just looking for those Bette Davis eyes.
Some species have no problem there. The Arabian racing camel has two rows of long, interlocked lashes to help protect the eyes from desert sand.