Shabina Akhtar explains: Tears are watery secretions of the lacrimal or tear gland, situated at the outer corner of the eye socket immediately above the eyeball. “Tears may be basic [the fluid present that lubricates the eye] or reflexive [induced by physical irritation or an emotional outbreak] in nature,” says Dr Himadri Datta, professor, Regional Institute of Opthalmology (RIO), Calcutta.
Lacrimation (or coming out of tears) due to emotional outburst is an involuntary process stimulated by the autonomic nervous system which controls involuntary functions of the body like digestion and heartbeat. When we become upset, our brains overreact and work overtime to produce hormones that stimulate the lacrimal glands.
The fluid is secreted into the lacrimal lake, the area between the eyeball and the upper eyelid, and spreads across the surface of the eye by blinking. Typically, the fluid either evaporates or is drained off through tiny canals at the inner corner of the eye, but in times of excessive crying the apparatus is overwhelmed and tears overflow. “Crying helps to eliminate the extra hormones,” says Datta. Which is why many people feel calmer or refreshed after crying as the tear drops help the body flush out an excess of hormones when we are sad, distressed or happy.
The question was sent by Harsh Bhandari, Shibpur, Howrah