Cry Me A River: What Are Tears Made Of?
No matter how tough you are, you’ve definitely cried at some point in your life. Whether it was a stubbed toe or heart break, we’ve all let loose and cried like there was no tomorrow. While those wet streams of emotion were pouring out of your eyes, did you ever stop to think about what they were made of? Probably not – but the science behind them is actually quite fascinating!
Come along with us as we take a journey deep into your body. Look into our eyes! Look into your eyes! Discover the wonderful magic behind tears! Are you excited yet? Let’s jump in.
A Substance With Substance
While some might argue that tears are 1% water and 99% feelings, they actually (surprisingly) are not. Tears are primarily composed of three different elements: mucus, oil, and water. Your eye is normally covered by a thin film of tears with these different substances each on a different layer (the mucous, lipid, and aqueous layer, respectively).
The mucous layer is spread across your cornea and helps keep the tear film evenly distributed on your eye. On top of the mucous layer sits the aqueous layer, which protects your eyes from bacteria and infection. Finally, the heroic lipid layer caps it all off and keeps your tear film from spilling out onto your face.
Types Of Tears
The different types of tears fall into three distinct categories: basal tears, reflex tears, and psychic tears.
- Basal: These are the mother hens of your eyeballs. They keep you nourished and protect you from the floating danger of dust. They protect and hydrate your cornea and are made up of wonderful ingredients like water, mucin, glucose, urea, sodium, potassium, lipids, lysozyme, lactoferrin, lipocalin, lacritin, and immunoglobins. As you get older, your body produces less and less of these kinds of tears.
- Reflex: How quick are your reflexes? These tears are produced when your eyes are irritated from things like cutting onions. When these irritants enter your eye, a reflex is triggered in the ophthalmic nerve, which flushes your eyes with tears.
- Psychic: No, these tears can’t read minds. Well, maybe they can – the jury is still out on that one. However, these might be the type of tears that you’re most acquainted with. These tears are usually brought out as a response to high emotional stimulation. This can be anything from anger to sadness to pain, but it’s not all bad! Sometimes tears come from immense happiness, pleasure, or laughter. Psychic tears actually have a different makeup than basal or reflex tears; they contain hormones that act as a natural painkiller which can help ease the emotional overdose you may be experiencing.
Fun Facts About Tears
While the reasons why you might be crying aren’t always fun, these facts about tears sure are! Behold:
- The science behind the sniffles: Ever wonder why your nose starts running when you cry? No, it’s not some sort of cruel joke that your body is playing on you. It’s actually because your tear ducts and nasal cavities are interconnected, causing overflowing tears to sometimes pass through your nose rather than your eyes.
- Crying crocodile tears: You may have heard the term ‘crocodile tears’ used to describe someone who is fake-crying, but did you know that crocodiles actually do cry? Crocodile tears was actually originally used to describe how crocs sometimes cry while they eat. Talk about emotional eaters!
- Some cries are good cries: Sometimes, all you need is a good cry! It turns out that shedding tears can indeed be cathartic, giving you a chance to release your emotions and improve your mood. Additionally, crying in front of people can also increase your positivity towards them, making you feel closer and strengthening whatever relationship you have with them. Next time you’re feeling down, maybe letting loose and crying it out could actually boost your mood.
If there’s one thing you don’t need to cry about, it’s poor vision because we can help you with that! Book your LASIK consultation today and wipe those tears away.