Kremer Eye Center Blog

What are Tears Made Of? Four Fascinating Facts About Tears

January 29, 2016

tearsTears serve many purposes and they’re typically readily available whenever your eyes need them, and especially when you’re feeling emotional about something. But how much do you know about your tears? Keep reading to find out some of the most fascinating facts about tears, their functions, and how they work.

You Have Different Types of Tears

You have three different types of tears: basal tears, reflex tears, and emotional tears. Basal tears are necessary to your eye health and vision. They are in your eyes at all times to lubricate, nourish, and protect the eyes.

Reflex tears are those that form to protect your eyes from irritants. They wash away debris when it enters the eyes and help fight bacteria to prevent infection. They can also be triggered by the wind or onions.

Emotional tears occur when you’re emotionally sad or very happy.

Tears Have Layers

Overall, tears have almost the same composition as saliva. The film of your tears is made up of three layers including oil, water, and mucus. The water layer is the thickest layer and contain nutrients that are crucial for your eyes. The oil layer reduces evaporation to keep the eyes moist. It’s important for these layers to remain in balance or you may deal with uncomfortable conditions such as dry eye.

Tears Drain Themselves

tearsYour tears are created by the lacrimal glands located above the outer corner of each eye. You produce about five to ten ounces of tears per day regardless of whether you cry a lot or don’t cry at all. As you blink, tears spread across the surface of the eye to lubricate it. Then, tears drain into the puncta, the tiny opening in the inside corner of each eyelid. Your tears then flow into the nasal cavity and you will swallow them, or they become part of the nasal fluid. (This is the reason your nose runs when you cry.)

Tears are Important

Tears provide oxygen and nutrients to your eyes, remove waste products, lubricate the eye, and flush out debris and bacteria. They also help you see better by smoothing irregularities that may exist on the eye’s surface.

These are the most important facts about tears. They are crucial for eye health and vision. If you find that you are not producing enough tears, it’s imperative to notify your doctor immediately. This situation could lead to more issues like corneal abrasions, or you could be dealing with a serious eye condition that requires treatment.

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