Are Happy Tears Different From Sad Tears?

There are countless situations that can drive us to tears, from the happiest of moments to slicing onions on a table.  We often think of tears as merely being tears, without much in the way of distinction between what makes each tear different from the others.  One of the questions that have often been asked is just that, however, are tears shed for different reasons the same? Or, to put it another way, is a tear just a tear?  The answer, as it turns out, is no. Different tears shed for different reasons have different compositions, and why a tear is shed can sometimes be determined based on what they’re made of.  Today we’ll explore the question, is a tear just a tear?

Tears of Joy, Laughter, and Sorrow
Let’s start with what are technically referred to as ‘psychic tears’.  No, these aren’t some weird Whovian invention that can control people or reveal their thoughts, instead psychic tears are those that are shed in moments of extreme emotion.  When examined close up after they have dried, some interesting elements are received. Emotional tears all contain the same chemical make-up, including trace elements of the body’s natural pain-relieving processes.  It’s difficult to tell if the nature of the tear has an effect on what it looks like when it dries, as so many factors can come into play while they’re drying up on a slide. What is clear is that psychic tears are clearly not any other kind of tear.

You’ve Got To Keep It Hydrated
Basal tears are those that are produced with the purpose of keeping our eyes lubricated and free from irritation.  When these tears are shed they’re simply ensuring that your eyes don’t dry out, and that means that they’re constantly being shed to combat the dehydrating effect of air.

Tears Released By Reflex
Reflex tears are those shed to help combat airborne irritants like onions, tear gas, or particularly noxious perfume.  When you’ve smelled something truly awful and it makes your eyes tear up, when the air is thick with smoke and tears stream down your face, or when you’re cutting onions, it’s all reflex tears that you are shedding.  These tears are also distinctly different from the other two, having their own composition that helps with protecting the eyes and washing out irritants.

Tears are complex structures, and we owe much of our optical health to the hard work they perform.  As an essential part of our eyes health, it pays to understand a little bit more about them than ‘they’re salty and wet’.  If you want to learn even more, or maybe take some time to see to your optical health, contact Dr. Paul Trapeni at The Optical Shoppe in Smyrna, TN.  After scheduling an appointment you’ll get a full optical check-up, including an eye exam optimized for your health realities, and get advisement on how you can help make sure your eyes remain healthy for years to come.

Dr. Paul D. Trapeni JrAt The Optical Shoppe, we're dedicated to optometry excellence under the guidance of Dr. Paul D Trapeni. Serving the Smyrna community since 1989, Dr. Trapeni is a trusted member of the community, bringing general and specialized optometry care to individuals and families throughout the area.