Why Do We Produce Tears?

I’ll Cry If I Want To

We actually produce three different types of tears:

  • Basal Tears: These protect the eyes from debris

  • Reflex Tears: These are produced when we come into contact with harmful substances, e.g. onions. (Don’t forget my husband’s trick of sticking his tongue out when he cuts an onion – it actually works but don’t tell him that!)

  • Emotional Tears: Scientists are only just beginning to deduce why we produce emotional tears – is it to release hormones like the stress hormone cortisol, or more of a social signal, or both?

Watch this wonderful TED talk about tears to hear about this in animated detail!