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The Health Benefit of Tears

Did you know that your body makes approximately 15-30 gallons of tears each year? That’s almost 250 pounds of tears!

Many people don’t realize that their body produces three different types of tears: basal tears, reflex tears, and emotional tears. Each type has a specific role and special healing properties.

Basal tears (continuous tears) are in your eyes all the time. They are there to not only lubricate your eye, but protect your cornea from infection. Think of them as your eyes’ invisible shield, protecting you against the rest of the world.

Reflex tears help your eye to clear out harmful irritants, like smoke, exhaust, onion fumes, etc. You can’t control the onset of these tears, they are a reflex (hence their name). The cool thing about reflex tears? They can contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes.

Emotional tears are produced in response to various emotional states. Some individuals cry when they feel sad, afraid, or even joyful. Scientists have recently discovered that emotional tears have several health benefits. They contain stress hormones that get excreted through the body when crying, and several studies show that crying stimulates natural endorphins (nature’s painkiller). So the next time you’re feeling blue, don’t be afraid to have a good cry.

If a person’s body does not produce enough tears, or if there is an imbalance in the makeup of the actual tear itself, they often suffer from dry eyes. There are a multitude of treatment options to manage dry eyes, but many people find artificial tears to help alleviate some of their symptoms. If you suffer from dry eyes, talk with one of our eye doctors to set up a treatment plan.

Tears are vital to the health and well being of our eyes. So the next time you chop an onion and tear up, thank your tears for protecting you.