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What Are Tears (Luha) Made Of?

Medically reviewed by Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO · Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Aug 25, 2022

    What Are Tears (Luha) Made Of?

    No one is exempted from crying. From a baby, a toddler, to a teen, or even an adult, we all have cried at some point in time. It is undeniable that our crying accompanies us through both ours highs and lows. But, have you ever wondered what are tears made of? Read on to find out more.

    Getting To Know Your Tears

    More than just mere water running down your face, tears (or lacrimation) lubricate the eyes to prevent dehydration. It can also work as an antibacterial and antiviral agent that protects the eyes from infections or even the daily dirt and dust. 

    Also known as lacrimation, these are made up of the following  major components:

  • Water
  • Mineral salts
  • Proteins
  • Antibodies
  • Lysozyme (bactericidal enzyme)
  • what are tears made of

    How Your Body Produces Tears

    Most people may not know it but, tear production is actually vital in the proper functioning of the eyes. This is why some would tell you that crying is actually good for you.

    It is the lacrimal glands that are responsible for the production of tears.  Tears flow across the surface of your eye as you blink. It then drains into puncta, which are little holes in the corners of both the upper and lower eyelids. After which, it runs through small channels in your lids and down a duct before draining through your nose.

    What Are Tears Made Of?

    Because of all the crying life brings to a person, some people may actually wonder what tears are made of. Well, the tear film, a thin fluid film that covers the eye, has 3 different layers:

  • The oily outermost layer prevents quick evaporation. It also helps smoothen the eyes’ surface.
  • The watery middle layer keeps the eyes moist while keeping the ocular tissue nourished.
  • The inner mucus layer aids in the attachment of the tear film to the surface of the eyes.
  • What Are the Different Types of Tears?

    When it comes to asking the question of what are tears made of, it is also usually followed up with what are the different types and how do they display. 

    There are three types, each with a distinct function.

    Basal Tears

    These are the most common type. All-day long, the eyes roll around in them. Basal tears are made up of oil, mucus, water, and salt, which provide defense against different diseases. The oil holds fluid in place, preventing them from evaporating into the air. Blinking distributes them equally throughout the eye’s surface.

    Reflex (or Irritant) Tears

    This is the type known to be your eyewash tears. They come pouring out of the glands beneath your brows whenever you try peeling onions, vomiting, or getting your eye infected with dust.  It is responsible for cleaning the eyes by flushing away the said irritants.

    Emotional (or Psychic) Tears

    Strong emotions such as sadness, grief, excitement, or rage cause this kind to flow. Scientists have discovered traces of stress hormones, which could indicate that crying is a method of stress relief. Furthermore, some research proposes that weeping may also cause the release of endorphins, which are believed to be the brain’s feel-good chemical messenger of the body. This is the same neurotransmitter that is released when you break a sweat during an exercise.

    Key Takeaways

    Emotional tears are a human-specific response since only humans can cry. Tears are also known as a  mode of communication, which showcases sympathy and other benefits not only to an individual’s health (both physically and physiologically) but also to the group’s sense of community.

    Crying and releasing all those inner feelings away helps more than you ever know. There are so many ways why it helps to sometimes just let it run down your face. So, when a person asks you, what are tears made of and why people cry, you know what to say.

    Learn more about Eye Health here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO

    Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center

    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Aug 25, 2022

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