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Tears are a liquid produced by the body to lubricate the eyes. Though most people associate tears with crying, the production of tears is essential for the proper functioning of  eyes. Tears associated with crying or weeping are an emotional response.

Normally, the tears produced in the eye consist of  3 layers:

1. outermost layer contains oils  and provides a coating to inner layers which contain water. This layer slows down evaporation of the inner layer.

2. the middle aqueous layer contains water , proteins and other substances. Since the outer layer of  the eye does not contain any blood cells, this layer keeps the eye moist

3.the inner mucous layer contains mucin, and covers the cornea.

 

The different types of  tears and their function  are:

1.Basal tears - these are produced continuously by the eye and keep the cornea wet, acting as a lubricant. They ensure that the eye is dust free and some of  the substances fight against bacterial infection. When the eye does not produce enough basal tears, a person suffers from dry eye.

2. Reflex tears (eyes start watering) are produced when the eye is irritated due to foreign particles like dust or onion vapors. These tears try to wash out the irritant from the eye.

3.  Tears produced while weeping or crying are due to emotional stress. These tears are commonly associated with negative emotions like physical pain, depression, grief or being hurt. However, people also cry when they are very happy or laughing (tears of joy). The chemical composition of  these tears is different  from that of  basal and reflex tears.

Crying is commonly associated with babies and children. As they grow up, they cry less often due to societal pressure. It is more socially acceptable for women to cry than men. 

  

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