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Tears: Wash the chemical constitutions out of your body

Relief, Release, Joy

Different crystals in tears

Human tears under a microscope

Tears are often seen as mere expressions of emotion, but they are much more complex and vital than that. Understanding the different types and functions of tears can offer a glimpse into their remarkable role in our lives.

Composition of Tears

Tears are composed of three layers:

  1. Mucous Layer: Helps tears adhere to the eye’s surface.
  2. Aqueous Layer: The watery middle layer, rich in proteins and salts, hydrates and nourishes the eye.
  3. Lipid Layer: The oily outer layer prevents evaporation and ensures smooth spreading over the eye.

Types of Tears

There are three types of tears, each serving unique purposes:

  1. Basal Tears: Continuously produced to keep the eye moist and protected from dust and microorganisms.
  2. Reflex Tears: Produced in response to irritants like smoke or onions, helping to flush out harmful substances.
  3. Emotional Tears: Triggered by strong emotions, they contain higher levels of stress-related proteins and hormones, such as prolactin and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).

Emotional Regulation and Social Bonding

Emotional tears play a crucial role in regulating emotions and relieving stress. They may help remove toxins from the body and release endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers. Additionally, crying can signal vulnerability, eliciting empathy and support from others, thereby strengthening social bonds.

Lubrication and Protection

Basal tears constantly lubricate the eyes, preventing them from drying out and protecting against potential infections. They also help remove small debris and dust particles that could harm the eye.

Health Indicators

Tears can indicate underlying health conditions. For example, insufficient tear production can lead to dry eye syndrome, causing discomfort and vision problems. Conversely, excessive tearing can be a symptom of blocked tear ducts, allergies, or infections.

Healing Properties

Tears contain lysozyme, an enzyme with antibacterial properties, reducing the risk of infections. They also facilitate wound healing by providing a moist environment essential for repairing the corneal surface.

Evolutionary Perspective

From an evolutionary standpoint, emotional tears may have developed as a non-verbal communication tool, signaling distress or the need for support without attracting predators, thus increasing chances of survival.


Tears are a sophisticated and essential aspect of human physiology and emotional life. They protect and nourish our eyes, help us communicate and bond with others, and play a crucial role in our emotional well-being. Understanding the complexity of tears can deepen our appreciation for this seemingly simple yet profoundly significant bodily function.