Tears are droplets of fluid that we normally associate with a sad song or touching moment in life. Emotional tears are just one reason that the body produces this fluid. There are two more types of tears that may flow from time to time.
- Basal tears are the beads of fluid that spread out across the surface of the eyes. Basal tears should constantly be flowing from the tear gland. Every time we blink, these tears are dispersed to keep the eyes lubricated and comfortable.
- Reflex tears do not have a different chemical makeup than basal tears; they are just produced for a different reason. Reflex tears are produced by the tear glands when something has irritated the eye. An example of this would be onions or smoke. When an irritant of any kind touches the eye, the cornea communicates with the brain, which sends the brain into action producing hormones that cause the eyes to water. Tear production is often prompted by coughing or yawning, which could squeeze the muscles around the tear glands, forcing increased production.
- Emotional tears indicate strong feelings. A person may produce emotional tears when they feel joyous or when they have been physically or emotionally hurt. Interestingly, it is believed that emotional tears may facilitate the release of stress-related toxins in the body. Emotional tears come from brain-released hormones, which are produced when sadness or other intense emotion is registered in the cerebrum.
When Tears Disappear
Many people have difficulty in the area of tear production. This isn’t because they do not express emotion. It could be because the glands that produce the oil, water, and mucus have become blocked. When tear production is chronically low, we refer to this condition as dry eye syndrome. Patients refer to it as uncomfortable or frustrating, or both.
Dry eyes are no small nuisance. The lack of tears can create eye fatigue that inhibits one’s ability to work or read. Without sufficient fluid to cover the eye’s surface, a foreign body sensation may occur, or the eyes may feel scratchy, with no hope for relief.
If you’re struggling with dry eye, contact Central Florida Eye Institute. We can discuss the use of appropriately-formulated eye drops or other treatment to resolve this problem.