What is it like to cry without an eye

Body Knowledge: Tears - Why Everyone Cries Different

Young or old, woman or man - tears roll down everyone's cheeks from time to time. The drops that well out of our eyes are more than salt water. They reveal how we are feeling right now

When was the last time you cried?

Was it because of a bad school grade? Or because of a nasty remark from a classmate? While chatting with your parents or because the opposing player kicked too hard in soccer? Maybe your best friend's compliment made your eyes water.

So there are many reasons to cry. Talking about tears is difficult for most. After all, with the "eye drops" we show people feelings. Anger, sadness, joy, pain and emotion are suddenly visible to everyone. Some people are pretty embarrassed. They feel ashamed when they cry too often or on seemingly inappropriate occasions.

Runs like clockwork

Moist eyes are very important to us. We cry more or less all the time, because our lacrimal glands work almost tirelessly. They sit under the upper eyelids in the outer corners of the eyes. The approximately almond-sized glands produce one to three milliliters of liquid a day, i.e. about a thimble full.

Three to six times a minute the lids close like windshield wipers and distribute the salt water on the cornea. So tears are a lubricant and provide good vision and visual acuity. They consist of water, fats, salts and certain proteins, so-called enzymes. For example, they can kill bacteria. In addition, the liquid washes unwanted foreign bodies such as dust or sand out of the eye.

Even when our eyes have to ward off unpleasant attacks, the tear machine runs like clockwork. The wind when cycling or the gases that rise when chopping onions stimulate the glands to inject more water into the eye in order to protect the sensitive organ of vision from damage.

A person sheds 80 liters of liquid in his life

All vertebrates living on land need well-watered eyes. Still, dogs, rabbits, and chickens don't cry when they feel bad or overjoyed. Only we humans can smile really nicely.

We shed around 80 liters of tear fluid during an average life. That's around five million individual tears! Still, scientists don't quite agree on why we're the only real crybugs on our planet.

When the dams break

For a long time, researchers believed that tears were used to wash toxic substances out of the body, which are produced, for example, when we are injured. In the meantime, however, detailed investigations have shown that such substances are not found in sufficient quantities in the tear fluid.

Another explanation is much more likely: tears are always a communication to the environment. Even babies cry when they are not feeling well, when they are hungry or when they want to cuddle. So with tears they show that they urgently need support.

Because that works pretty well, children and adults also use the humid call for help. However, this happens completely automatically and without thinking. If the brain receives the appropriate signals, things go smoothly. The glands shift up a gear.

Soon the tear ducts in the inner corners of the eyes no longer manage to drain the water normally into the nasal cavity with which they are connected. So the "gutters" overflow like a downpour, and the tears are making their way outside.

The whole body is in an uproar

The pulse is increased, the nose is running, breathing is faster and comes out of step - and people are sobbing! It's all pretty exhausting. After a hearty hay attack, everyone is really exhausted at first.

Most of them, however, are somewhat relieved. So crying is also a valve that helps us to regain our inner balance.

Everyone howls differently

Up to the age of twelve, boys and girls cry about the same amount. After puberty, however, women are usually built closer to water than men. Men prefer to slip away before their emotions confuse them too much.

With them, the tear barriers are much more likely to break when they are happy about something semi-important - for example when their favorite club has won the championship. So everyone deals with their tears differently.

Tears at your fingertips

With a little practice you can suppress your tears pretty well - or let them flow "at the push of a button". Ultimately, we reap compassion and helpfulness. Or can play touching scenes in a play. Actors train how to cry so that they can just start screaming on stage or on the film set.

Most of the time, they think of something bad from their past. In this way they outsmart their own physical instinct - and perhaps move their audience to tears.