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Reston   (703) 485-2148 Leesburg   (703) 777-1244
Reston   (703) 485-2148 Leesburg   (703) 777-1244

How Do Your Eyes Make Tears?


Have you ever wondered how your eyes make tears? It’s not just sad movies or puppy videos that spring tears to your eyes; as it turns out, your body produces different types of tears every year (almost 30 gallons’ worth!) to keep your eyes healthy and happy. Let’s take a look at how your eyes make tears, and how even your tears can serve different purposes.


Tears are emitted from the lacrimal gland, which is located in the upper eye area. Tears spread across the eye and into the corners, where the puncta is located. If you look closely in the mirror, you’ll see your punctas – they’re tiny holes located in both the lower and upper eyelids. Tears eventually spill out of the eyes, or they go into those tiny ducts and into your nose (this is the reason why you tend to get a runny nose when crying).

But it’s not just how you make tears that’s pretty fascinating – it’s also why you make tears. Different tears serve different purposes, like:

  • Getting rid of irritants: Got smoke or a speck of dust in your eyes? You’ll produce reflex tears, which are designed to flush out the irritants and lubricate your eyes.
  • Keeping your eyes lubricated: Basal tears are ever-present in your eyes, as they’re designed to constantly keep your eyes lubricated and healthy. These tears act as a shield between you and the world so as to minimize exposure to dust, pollen, and other irritants.
  • Expressing emotion: Of course, your body produces tears when you’re feeling a strong emotion, like sadness, anger, or even happiness. While scientists are still trying to determine why the body produces emotional tears, some researchers have pointed out that emotional tears contain proteins that aren’t present in other tear types.


Still have more questions about how your body produces tears? Do you have trouble producing natural tears? Schedule a consultation with ophthalmologist Dr. Jacqueline Griffiths at NewView Eye Center in Reston, VA today. 703-834-9777

NewView Eye Center serves the greater Washington, DC metro area.