What does it mean when tears come from both eyes

Why Do We Cry? The Truth Behind Your Tears – Cleveland Clinic

Why do we cry even when we’re not sad? What are tears good for anyway? According to wellness expert Michael Roizen, MD, tears are extremely useful. They help you see clearly. They wash debris from your eyes. And they communicate all kinds of feelings.

But did you know that not every tear is made up of the same material? And while some people cry more than others, it’s OK: You can cry if you want to. Dr. Roizen walks us through all of the amazing facts about the fluid that fills your eyes each and every day.

Why do we cry?

We cry for a variety of reasons. Your emotions can cause you to cry when you’re sad, angry or happy.

“Crying for emotional reasons can make you feel better, releases tension and gives you a psychic reboot,” Dr. Roizen says.

But there are physical reasons, too, like if you’ve got dirt in your eye or you experience some physical pain.

“Crying also happens for physical reasons to deliver nutrients and wash out stress-related toxins,” says Dr. Roizen. “And we cry for social reasons to communicate distress, sincerity, attraction, aversion — depending on the context.” 

The fluid that makes up your tears contains water for moisture and oils for lubrication and to prevent your tear liquid from evaporating. Your tears also contain mucus so they can spread evenly across the surface of your eyes. Plus, that mucus contains antibodies and special proteins for resistance to infection. Oxygen and nutrients are also transported to the surface cells of your eyes by tears since there aren’t blood vessels on your eyes.

There are three kinds of tears, and each kind has a very different job. Some tears keep your eyes moist, while others wash away debris and protect your eyes from infection. Then, there are the emotional tears.

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Here’s why life would look much blurrier without all three kinds.

Types of tears
1. Basal tears

These are your basic tears. Your eyes roll around in them all day. They contain oil, mucus, water and salt, and help fight infection. The oil keeps your tears in place and prevents them from evaporating into the atmosphere. Blinking spreads them evenly over the surface of your eye. These tears can improve your vision and sharpen your focus.

2. Irritant tears 

These are your eyewash tears. The glands under your eyebrows push them out when you peel an onion, vomit or get dust in your eye. They flush out the material that’s irritating your eyes. These are the kind of tears that stream down your face when your allergies are kicking into high gear.

3. Psychic or emotional tears

These tears gush in response to strong emotions like sadness, grief, joy or rage. They have the same chemical makeup as basal tears, but contain more stress hormones and natural painkillers. Humans and animals have compounds in our body fluids that give off subtle messages to other members of the species. That’s why sometimes our tears can relay chemical messages (either intended or unintended) to someone close by. This can bring about empathy or compassion in other people, or signal them to stay away, for example.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology emotional tears are triggered by empathy, compassionate and societal pain, physical pain, attachment-related pain, and sentimental or moral feelings. Some studies also suggest people are more likely to feel better after crying if they received social support while doing it.

How much crying is considered normal?

Crying is a normal behavior caused by a variety of reasons that include emotional, physical and chemical responses from your body. But it’s possible you can cry too much or not cry enough. Either can cause damage to your eyes if left untreated. Some conditions that aren’t considered normal may include the following.

Too many tears

The tiny openings in the inner corner of your eyelids are drains. When you get a cold, these drains can swell and become blocked. This causes your tears to overflow onto your face. Sometimes, your tear glands produce too little oil for the basal tear mix. This can also cause an ongoing tear spill.

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Dry eyes

Your eyes can temporarily dry out because of atmospheric conditions. But they can also dry out from disease. Some medications and cancer treatments can cause dry eyes as well. In these situations, your eyes may not produce any tears, causing irritation. Or your eyes could produce emergency tears too quickly to overcompensate for the lack of lubrication needed to keep your eyes clean and fresh. These emergency tears can contain excess mucus that you might feel like wiping away when it becomes too much, but that could lead to mucus fishing syndrome.

“Drug stores carry different types of artificial tears to treat dry eyes,” Dr. Roizen recommends. “But if this sort of thing goes on, see your doctor to obtain treatments that can help with any eye conditions you may have and treat the underlying causes.

Pathological laughing and crying

This neurological condition, which brings uncontrollable tears to the surface of your eyes, is caused by Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and other brain diseases. If this happens, be sure to consult your doctor and detail your symptoms so you can receive the proper treatment, Dr. Roizen advises.

When to seek help

“Remember, all tears are there for the greater good,” Dr. Roizen explains, “so there’s absolutely no need for you to ever hold them back.”

But if your eyes are irritated, itchy, red or swollen, or if you’re constantly crying without any noticeable reason, you should seek out your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause in case you have an eye infection or other untreated condition.

Three Types of Tears | What are Tears Made of?

The cornea is covered by a three-layer tear film. Those layers are:

  1. Mucus: This is the innermost tear film layer produced by the conjunctiva—the eye’s outer membrane. It keeps your eyes moist by distributing the layer of water over the eye’s surface.
  2. Water: Your eye’s lacrimal gland produces this middle tear film layer, which is the bulk portion of each tear. This layer is an eye cleaning agent that removes particles from the eye.
  3. Lipid (oil): The meibomian glands produce this outermost tear film layer. The oil creates a smooth surface on tears and acts as a protective barrier that prevents the water layer of tears from drying out.

Tears are produced in the lacrimal gland. This tear gland comprises the middle layer of the tear film. Healthy tear production prevents your eyes from drying out and becoming inflamed, which in turn protects your corneas from damage.

Why Watery Eyes Occur

Watery eyes—formally known as epiphora—occur when the tear ducts become clogged and tears have nowhere to escape but outside your eyes. When eyes start tearing up like this, it’s typically caused by an irritated cornea or conjunctiva.

Common Watery Eye Symptoms

Here are the top symptoms of watery eyes:

  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Excess tear production
  • Infection
  • Pain
  • Runny nose
  • Blurry/Impaired vision
  • Allergies
  • Redness

Treatment Options for Watery Eyes

But how can you stop watery eyes? When you visit Cleveland Eye Clinic for treatment, we’ll do one or more of the following things to treat the condition:

  • Prescribe medication
  • Remove any foreign objects from your eyes
  • Unblock your tear ducts
  • Perform eyelid repair

Did you know there are three different types of tears? Take a look below at the three types of tears your eyes produce.

Basal Tears

Containing three separate layers, basal tears are complex. The combined layers coat the eye and supply nutrients to its outer structures. 

Basal tears are what appear when dust, follicles, or debris get in your eyes. They protect the eye from drying out and the cornea from damage. Your eyes constantly shed basal tears, even when you don’t notice. 

Emotional Tears

Your eyes produce emotional tears when you’re overcome with emotion. Scientists have found traces of stress chemicals in emotional tears, which could mean crying is a form of stress relief. 

Other studies suggest that crying stimulates the body’s production of endorphins—the feel-good chemical produced in the brain. Only humans are known to produce emotional tears.

Reflex Tears

The eye’s lacrimal gland produces reflex tears, which are composed primarily of water. The body makes these tears in response to an external stimulus. 

For example, if a bug flies into your eye, it will produce reflex tears to flush it out.

Dry eyes result from either insufficient or low-quality tear production. Common causes include inflamed ocular glands, medications, and hormonal changes.

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Redness
  • Dryness
  • Scratchiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Burning sensation
  • Sandy or gritty sensation

When to Get Them Checked

Get your eyes checked if you’re experiencing intermittent fuzziness or any type of discomfort that over-the-counter eye drops don’t relieve.

Take Our Dry Eye Self-Test

If you want to consult an eye doctor about tear production problems, schedule an appointment at the Cleveland Eye Clinic office closest to you. Our skilled eye doctors are ready to assist you in finding the best eye care treatment available for your condition.

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Watery eyes. Why, what reasons? What to do? How to treat

Watery eyes or lacrimation - a condition when a tear accumulates in the conjunctival cavity and flows over the edge of the eyelid. The result is irritation of the skin of the eyelids, redness, maceration. Constantly flowing tears cause discomfort and irritation.

Why are the eyes watering and what to do?

Watery eyes only for three reasons:
A. Lacrimal glands produce excessive amounts of lacrimal fluid .
B. Disturbance of the lacrimal ducts .
S. Violation of the composition of tears .

Tears are essential for permanent hydration of the cornea. With a lack of tears, the cornea dries up, becomes cloudy and the person loses sight. This disease is called corneal xerosis. Therefore, to maintain good vision, the release of tears is necessary.

Interestingly, produces approximately 250 ml of lacrimal fluid per day in each eye. The same amount of tears is removed from the eye along the lacrimal ducts, which include the lacrimal canaliculus, lacrimal sac and nasolacrimal canal.

Each human eye has a lacrimal gland, which is located in the upper-outer part of the eye, and 18-20 small additional lacrimal glands in the transitional conjunctival fold of the upper eyelid, at the top of the eyelid from the inside.

Under normal conditions, only accessory lacrimal glands are constantly functioning and secreting tears. This tear is completely enough for a person to moisturize the cornea.
The main lacrimal gland is included in the work when the cornea dries up, it is irritated by a foreign object, or during psychological (neurological) irritation.

Watery eyes, what could be the reasons?

A. Causes causing hypersecretion of the lacrimal glands:
1. "Dry Eye Syndrome"
2. Dry air
3. Foreign body in cornea or conjunctiva
4. Chemical irritation of the cornea
5. Inflammatory process in the conjunctiva (conjunctivitis)
6. Inflammatory process of the eyelids (blepharitis)
7. Irritation of the nerves innervating the lacrimal glands, neurological cause of lacrimation
8. Violation of the psychosomatic state

B. Causes of disruption of the outflow of tears:
1. Atony (flabbiness) of the lower eyelid
2. Blockage of the lacrimal ducts
3. Inflammatory process in the lacrimal ducts
4. Narrowing of the lacrimal ducts
5. Inversion or eversion of the lacrimal openings.
6. Compression of the lacrimal ducts by eyelid edema

C. Causes leading to disruption of the tear composition:
1. Meibomitis - inflammation of the meibomian glands

A. Causes causing hypersecretion of the lacrimal glands:

1 "Dry Eye Syndrome".
Paradoxically, but it is the “dry eye syndrome” that is one of the two most basic causes of lacrimation. It would seem that a "dry eye" requires hydration and cannot be the cause of excess tears. But it is the drying of the cornea that triggers the hypersecretion of the lacrimal gland, which produces a larger volume of tears than the lacrimal ducts can divert.
Treatment : Drops of artificial tears, restoring the tear film and, most importantly, its normal composition, will help get rid of lacrimation in this case. Massage of the meibomian glands is also recommended to restore their normal functioning. Violation of the function of the meibomian glands leads to a violation of the composition of the tear and, as a result, to the “dry eye syndrome”. It is also necessary to humidify the air in the room, especially in winter. The relative power of air for the normal functioning of the lacrimal organs should be more than 50%.

2 . Dry indoor or outdoor air causes tears to dry out and cornea to dry out. This effect is especially pronounced in countries with hot climatic conditions, accompanied by persistent winds. The mechanism of additional production of tears, which is produced in excess, is launched, and lacrimation occurs.
It should be noted that frosty air in terms of its physical characteristics is much drier than warm air. Therefore, on the street in the cold, accompanied by the wind, the tears also dry quickly and, as a result, additional increased secretion of tears by the lacrimal gland, from which the eyes water heavily.
Treatment : maintain indoor relative humidity above 50%, avoid prolonged outdoor exposure to extremely dry warm or frosty air accompanied by strong winds.

3 . A foreign body in the cornea or conjunctival cavity , most often an eyelash, leads to a violation of the corneal epithelium, causing a "corneal" syndrome, which is always accompanied by redness and watery eyes.
Treatment : it is necessary to remove the foreign body and use means that improve the regeneration of the cornea for its speedy recovery: eye drops or Korneregel gel, Solcoseryl eye ointment, Citral eye drops 2-3 times a day. After the restoration of the cornea, the lacrimation will stop. Along with drugs that improve regeneration, it is recommended to use eye drops to prevent a secondary infection, such as: "tobrex", "albucid 20%", "levomycetin" - 1 drop 3 times a day.

4 . Chemical irritation of the cornea by substances in the air leads to a reflex increase in lacrimation for increased protection of the cornea, to prevent the negative effects of chemicals on the eye lens, which are washed away by the abundant release of tears. We know that our eyes water when we peel onions. This is the most typical example of lacrimation from chemical exposure to the eyes. The same happens in a room where there is an excess of ammonia, tobacco smoke, and other active chemicals.
Treatment : Rinse eyes with warm water and evacuate. For prevention it is necessary to use goggles.

5. Conjunctivitis or inflammation of the mucous membrane of the eye also causes watery eyes. In addition to the fact that a tear flows, the eyes become red. With bacterial conjunctivitis, the discharge of pus, swelling of the eyelids joins.
Treatment : The cause of conjunctivitis must be determined and treated with drugs that inhibit the growth of viruses or bacteria. These can be: "tobrex", "tobradex", "maxitrol", "interferon", "albucid 20%", "levomycetin" - 1 drop 4-6 times a day.

6 . Blepharitis , or inflammation of the edges of the eyelids, leads to chronic lacrimation, like the disease itself, which most often has a chronic course. Tearing in blepharitis is associated with swelling of the eyelids and difficulty in the outflow of tears through the lacrimal canaliculi.
Treatment : Treatment of the underlying disease of blepharitis will help to get rid of lacrimation in this case.

7 . Irritation of the nerves innervating the lacrimal glands , neurological cause of lacrimation. The innervation of the lacrimal gland is very complex. Four nerves provide its sensitive and secretory functions. This is the "Lacrimal Nerve" - ​​the first branch of the trigeminal nerve, a branch of the facial nerve, as well as nerve fibers of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system. Irritation of these nerve fibers can cause hypersecretion of the lacrimal gland. The irritating factors include tumors, inflammatory diseases on the face, injuries.
Treatment : what to do in this case to stop lacrimation, neuropathologists can tell.

8. Violation of the psychosomatic state of a person is a common cause when the eyes water in excess and tears flow like a river. Anger, fear, sadness or grief cause irritation of the sympathetic nervous system, releasing the so-called “stress reaction hormones” into the blood - adrenaline, norepinephrine. As you know, the lacrimal gland is innervated by the sympathetic nervous system and therefore, when it is irritated, increased production of tears occurs. The stronger the stress response, the greater the irritation of the sympathetic nervous system and the more tears flow.
Treatment : drugs that stabilize the nervous system and reduce stress. Very suitable "Novopassit", "Valerian extract"

B. Causes that cause disruption of the outflow of tears:

1. The second most common cause of lacrimation is atony (decreased tone) of the lower eyelid .
The tear flows from the conjunctival cavity through the lacrimal opening located on the lower eyelid. Normally, the eyelid has a good tone and the point is adjacent to the eyeball.

With age, muscle tone changes, the tone decreases, the eyelid becomes flabby and a small gap forms between the eye and the eyelid. The lacrimal opening moves away from the eyeball, the tear cannot find an outflow path and overflows over the edge of the eyelid. This happens when the eyes watery with age-related disorders in the body - atony of the lower eyelid.
Treatment : treatment in this case can only be surgical. There are two directions of treatment: it is the expansion of the lacrimal opening or excision of a part of the lower eyelid to increase its tone and return to its original state, when the lacrimal point is again adjacent to the eyeball and the tear outflow path is restored.

2. Blockage of the lacrimal ducts can be at any stage. In adults, blockage of the lacrimal ducts most often occurs. The cause of blockage can be discharge from conjunctivitis, blepharitis, mascara and other similar reasons.
Violation of the outflow in the lacrimal sac occurs after inflammatory diseases of the lacrimal ducts, dacryocystitis, canaliculitis. In such cases, the products of inflammation remain in the lacrimal sac and prevent the outflow of tears.
Diagnosis is carried out by obtaining x-rays with a contrast agent that fills the lacrimal ducts.
Treatment : Disturbance of the conductivity of the lacrimal ducts is carried out by their expansion and washing. As a rule, such procedures give a stable positive effect.

3. Inflammatory process in the lacrimal ducts . Dacryocystitis is an inflammation of the lacrimal gland. Dacryocystitis is characterized by the accumulation of inflammatory products in the lacrimal sac, its swelling, redness and soreness in the area of ​​​​the internal adhesion of the eyelids. At the same time, tears, as a rule, "run in a stream." Canaliculitis - inflammation of the lacrimal ducts. Diagnosis of canaliculitis is difficult, as there are no outward signs of inflammation other than lacrimation.
Treatment : Treatment must be carried out in a specialized surgical facility, since successful treatment of dacryocystitis requires the creation of an outflow tract for the inflammatory fluid of the lacrimal sac, which is performed surgically.

4. Narrowing of the lacrimal ducts , or their stricture, is usually a consequence of inflammatory processes in the eye - conjunctivitis, inflammation of the eyelids, blepharitis. Violation of the epithelial wall of the lacrimal ducts due to infection leads to a narrowing of the lumen and to a violation of the outflow of tears.
Treatment : Bougienage of the lacrimal, nasolacrimal canals. If there is no effect, they resort to plastic surgery.

5. Inversion or eversion of the lacrimal openings - is the result of trauma or very severe inflammation of the eyelids. As a result of the scarring process, the lacrimal punctum is displaced, the tear cannot flow along the lacrimal ducts. The eyes are very watery.
Treatment : Cosmetic treatment of torsion or eversion of the lacrimal punctum can only be surgical.

6. Compression of the lacrimal ducts by swelling of the eyelids - the most common cause of lacrimation in the morning . If the eye is very watery in the morning, pay attention to whether you have swelling of the eyelids and face.
A person's low mobility at night and a violation, especially with age, of the water-salt balance leads to stasis (slow flow) of fluid in the body, which accumulates in tissues rich in fiber, which include the eyelids. Excessive accumulation of interstitial fluid compresses the lacrimal ducts and can lead to severe lacrimation in the morning, which disappears as the person wakes up and moves.
Nocturnal lymphostasis, which occurs for a variety of reasons, from heart failure, kidney failure to varicose veins, can be the cause when tears flow in the morning.
Treatment: if, in addition to tears in the morning, you notice swelling of the eyelids, then it is necessary, at least for a few minutes, to carry out active physical exercises. The work of the muscles will improve lymphatic drainage, swelling of the eyelids will subside and tearing will stop.
In order to more accurately understand the malfunctions of the body, it is necessary to consult a therapist, who, based on examinations, recommends a consultation with a narrow specialist.

C. Causes leading to disruption of the composition of tears :

1. Meibomitis (meibomitis) - inflammation of the meibomian glands Maybomite is the third most common cause of watery eyes.
The meibomian glands are found in the intermarginal rim of the eyelids (the rims of the eyelids that touch when the eyes are closed). Meibomian glands produce a special viscous secret, which is located in the surface layer of the tear.
The tear consists of 99% water, so dries quickly. The secret of the meibomian glands prevents this process.

In case of inflammation of the meibomian glands, the composition of the secretion changes or it is completely absent when the glands are clogged with inflammation products. In this case, the biochemical composition of the tear changes and the tear dries very quickly on the surface of the cornea, it becomes irritated and, as a result, increased tearing, the eyes begin to water during this process.
Treatment : eyelid margins massage (5-7 days) with anti-inflammatory ointments: "tetracycline", "gentamicin", "hydrocortisone".
Treatment always has a positive result.


Author, Ph.D. Oleg Getto

Why eyes water and what to do about it

Constant tearing is the first sign that something is wrong with the eyes. Most often, of course, they itch and watery due to external irritants: bright sun, harsh wind or too cold air. But there are other reasons, much more serious.

Why the eyes are watery, what to do about it and in what cases you need to immediately contact an ophthalmologist - we will tell you in more detail.

The main causes of lacrimation

Sometimes discomfort in the eyes and the appearance of tears indicate that something is wrong with the body. Sometimes - the appearance of a foreign body, which is quite simple to remove. Sometimes - overvoltage. Before you go to a specialist, it is worth trying to identify which category your case belongs to.


Vitamin deficiency

If your eyes hurt often, in the morning and in the evening, regardless of how long you work at the computer - most likely, the reason lies in the lack of vitamins. Usually, eye problems are accompanied by a decrease in stamina, rapid fatigue, and at times severe headaches.

To make up for this deficiency, you can take vitamin complexes in drops or tablets, as well as add foods that contain the necessary elements to the diet.

Unsuitable contact lenses

If you picked them yourself, most likely you could make a mistake. Sometimes the lenses are too hard, simply expired, not well treated with a solution. Do not forget about hygiene and it is better to consult a doctor before changing glasses for lenses.


Poor quality cosmetics

It happens that a person puts on a full make-up, goes outside - and tears begin to flow like a river. The problem is either cheap caustic mascara, or inaccurate application of pressed shadows - the crumbs could simply get into the eye.

If you like to paint, be sure to pay attention to the compositions and, if possible, buy hypoallergenic cosmetics - you should apply only high-quality products to your eyes.

Colds and inflammations

Often watery eyes in both adults and children is one of the most obvious symptoms of a cold. If at the same time you also sniffle and cough, everything is quite clear: immediately go to the clinic at the place of residence.

As a rule, in such situations, the eyes stop watering pretty quickly - a few days of intensive treatment are enough.


Sometimes tearing is one of the signs of an allergic reaction to some product, pollen or wool. Usually tears start flowing when you are near the source of the allergen or eat something wrong, so getting rid of such a symptom is quite simple: take an antihistamine.

Severe fatigue

If you work at a computer all day and get up from your desk late at night, there is nothing to be surprised: of course, your eyes will hurt, swell and watery. In order not to cause great damage to your vision, change activities more often, do eye exercises and ask a specialist to prescribe you drops that will ease the load.

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