Why do our Eyes shed Tears?

tear hand

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What is the very first thing that you have been doing since ages whenever you feel like someone has hurt your emotions or when you see an emotion arousing movie or documentary? Yeah well, of-course apart from being sad, angry, depressed, etc. Ok! Let me help you with the word CRYING? Isn’t it? Your eyes shed tears when you feel emotionally stressed. Now just don’t go on saying that men don’t cry because men may not cry but humans do cry. Be it a female or male or others they do get tears; although the frequency of crying may vary, like estimated women cries per year is 50 while it is 10 for men. Humans drop tear because of many reasons those may range from, commonly known, emotional reasons to least perceived some environmental exposure reasons.

girl tears

Adding to the emotional front, there are humans who get waterworks in their eyes not only when they are sad but also when they feel any kind of extreme emotions like great happiness or arousal of any other feel that makes them to get goose-bumps. All the facts give rise to many of the questions those are relevant to our topic for e.g.- why do we shed tears?

Where does this stock of tears come from?

What things can make us cry?

How do my eyes know that I am sad or depressed?

Should we stop ourselves from crying?

If yes, they how?   and many more.

Starting with defining this process of shedding ears which is called “CRYING”, Wikipedia defines is like “Crying is welling of tears in response to some ‘emotional state’, ‘pain’ or some ‘physical irritation of eyes’”. This statement gives you an idea that apart from an emotional stressing situation other factors may also lead you to cry. That means you have various types of ‘Eyes-tears’. But don’t confuse these types of crying with lacrimation which is wholly a different concept than crying. Lacrimation means crying but due to abnormal reasons and excessive crying. Before moving on to other questions let me take you through one big query.



Do your eyes hold some stock of water behind eyeball like a car radiator holds water to cool down the engine? Well, for your surprise, YES! Umm.. not exactly any container but a system which is right next to your eyeballs and it is called ‘Lacrimal system’. This lacrimal system does both the functions for tears i.e. producing then and then excreting them or dropping/draining them. This system is physiological system which has suited orbital structure for it purpose of tear drainage as well as production. This system has components like:

  1. Lacrimal gland– This part of lacrimal system secrets tears. It produces and releases tears.
  2. Excretory ducts– This is responsible for dropping of tears. It conveys or passes the fluid to surface to human eye.
why tears

If lacrimal glands are present between eyeball and eyelids then how do whole of your eyes gets wet? Your continuous blinking of eyelids makes that drop of tear to spread across your eye. Your tears have two ways to go-

First, it may go to the sink plug, ‘lacrimal punctum’, and then runs-down to your nose and that is the reason that you get a running nose when you cry or have stopped crying. But, when you cry a lot, lot of tears are excreted and this overflow of tears cannot be completely absorbed by lacrimal punctum. These excessive tears roll down from your cheeks and face to your chins to drop down.

After comprehending the science behind TEARS, causes and reasons must be clarified. The types of tears, as stated before, will help you understand the reasons well. The three types of tears are: BASAL; REFLEX and EMOTIONAL Tears. These are explained below:

  1. BASAL TEARS: In human eyes cornea is the transparent front. This needs to be continuously kept moist, wet and lubricated because this part is involved in smooth movement of eyeball. Basal tears contain water, glucose, urea, sodium, potassium, mucin and many other lipids, lipocalin, lactoferrin, lysozyme etc. Some of these components fight against infection causing bacteria’s. They basically keep your eyes healthy.
  2. REFLEX TEARS: The second type of our eyes tears help us to remove or soothe any kind of irritation that has been caused by any foreign particles. Presence of irritant substances for e.g. pepper spray, perfumes, onion vapours or other irritation causing gases around the environment of one’s eyes triggers our lacrimal glands to release tears. In conjunction with irritants, such tears are also triggered by bright light, hot and soicy food that people eat, coughing or in-fact yawning.
onion tears
  1. EMOTIONAL TEARS: These are the kind of tears what people are interested in. You psychic-tears or emotional-tears are produced in response to the strong emotions feels like of sadness, happiness, laughter, anger, suffering, pain, mourning etc. Emotional tears contain some sort of natural painkiller which is called ‘LEUCINE ENKEPHALIN’ which helps you to feel better after you have sobbed a lot in an emotional stress.
srk tears

Although our tears are helpful to us in one or many ways like to keep our cornea moist or to help us bursting stress with their natural painkiller features etc. But just like excessive of anything is and the same rule applies here too. A lot of crying because of anxiety, stress, frustration, fear, shock or any environmental irritation should not be ignored rather one must think of ways to stop tears from shedding.

For controlling emotional tears one must analyse his or her emotional state. One may choose to walk out of the situation that makes one feeling like crying. A person may also use some of the distractions like involving in some other productive or fun-activity to lower down the emotional stress.

Some of the physical and practical methods those people use to prevent their tears from shedding involves breathing deeply, blinking eyelids simultaneously, calming oneself and relaxing facial muscles, or in-fact you may yourself discover what other trick works for you like dabbing my index fingers on my tear ducts help me, what about you?

cute tears

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