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Tears are the liquid product of a process of crying to clean and lubricate the eyes. The word lacrimation (from L. Lacrima meaning Tear) (also spelled lachrymation) may also be used in a medical or literary sense to refer to crying. Strong emotions, such as sorrow or elation, may lead to crying. The process of yawning may also result in lacrimation.



In humans, the tear film coating the eye, known as the precorneal film, has three distinct layers, from the most outer surface:

Having a thin tear film may prevent one's ability to wear contact lenses as the amount of oxygen needed is higher than normal and contact lenses stop oxygen from entering the eye. Eyes with thin tear film will dry out while wearing contact lenses. Special eye drops are available for contact lens wearers. Certain types of contact lenses are designed to let more oxygen through to the eye.

Drainage of tear film

The lacrimal glands secrete lacrimal fluid which flows through the main excretory ducts into the space between the eyeball and lids. When the eyes blink, the lacrimal fluid is spread across the surface of the eye. Lacrimal fluid gathers in the lacrimal lake, and is drawn into the puncta by capillary action, then flows through the lacrimal canaliculi at the inner corner of the eyelids entering the lacrimal sac,[1] then on to the nasolacrimal duct, and finally into the nasal cavity. An excess of tears, as with strong emotion, can thus cause the nose to run. [1]


There are three very basic types of tears:

Neural Aspects

The trigeminal V1 (fifth cranial) nerve bears the sensory pathway of the tear reflexes. When the trigeminal nerve is cut, tears from reflexes will stop, but not emotional tears. Likewise, application of cocaine to the surface of the eye, due to its paralyzing effect on the sensory nerve endings, inhibits the reflex even under exposure to strong tear gases. The motor pathway is autonomic (involuntary), and generally uses the pathway of the facial (seventh) nerve in the parasympathetic division. In parasympathetic imitators (such as acetylcholine), more tears are produced, and an anticholinergic drug like atropine, inhibits tear production. A newborn infant has insufficient development of nervous control, so s/he "cries without weeping." If lacrimal gland malfunctions but does not cause any severe drying of the cornea, and the main lacrimal gland may be damaged in surgery or other failure of lacrimal function occur, it is not a serious matter, for the accessory glands are enough for general secretion. In reflex situations, copious tears are produced mainly in emergencies.[1]

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