Why do we cry?
There are many different reasons why your eyes well up and sometimes spill over with tears. There are also different types of tears, each with a distinct composition. We cry to protect our eyes, to wash out irritants, and for emotional reasons. There are three types of tears: basal tears, emotional tears, and reflex tears.
How are the three types of tears different?
There are also some key differences between the three types of tears. Here’s a closer look.
1. Basal tears
These are the tears that your eyes are bathed in all day. When you blink, you spread them evenly over your eye’s surface to keep your vision as clear as possible. They wash away dirt and germs to keep your eyes healthy and free of infection.
2. Reflex tears
These are the tears that your eyes produce when you chop an onion. They wash away harmful irritants like smoke or particles. They come mainly from your lacrimal gland, so they are mostly water. Your eyes make more of them than basal tears, and they also contain substances, such as antibodies, to help fight infection.
3. Emotional tears
These are the tears that pour out of your eyes when you cry. They contain additional proteins and hormones you won’t find in other tears, such as prolactin, potassium, manganese, and stress hormones. One theory as to why we cry tears of emotion is that you release stress through these tears to help calm your body down. Unlike basal tears, your body doesn’t make them automatically. For emotional tears to kick in, your limbic system, the part of your brain that regulates emotions, sends a signal to activate your lacrimal glands to produce tears. When you make a lot of them, they overwhelm your tear ducts. As a result, they spill out of your eyes down your cheeks and even sometimes drip down into your nose.
Why do we cry emotional tears?
It’s thought that emotional tears themselves have an evolutionary purpose: They’re a way to get empathy. Research has found that people who get social support when they shed tears report feeling better than those who hold back their waterworks or don’t have any support.
Come and see us for all of your tearing problems. We would be happy to help.
Doctors Eyecare Wetaskiwin is one of the most trusted optometrists in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. We are a locally owned and operated business serving the Wetaskiwin community and surrounding area for 25 years. We are dedicated to providing our patients with the highest quality eye care. We offer a wide range of eye health services to patients of all ages, from children to seniors. This includes routine eye exams and vision tests, eye disease diagnosis and management, immediate attention for eye emergencies, and complete eye health management.
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