• Question: why do tears come out of your eyes when you cry?

    Asked by Jeff 21 to Andrew, Emma, John on 19 Nov 2015.
    • Photo: Emma Feeney

      Emma Feeney answered on 19 Nov 2015:

      We release tears when our eyes are irritated, and that’s to try to wash away whatever is irritating the tissues (e.g think cutting onions, or if you accidentally poke yourself in the eye… or get a fly in there, eek).

      But when we are sad (or really happy!), we cry, and that is different, even apparently, the tears themselves are different. No one really know why tears have this link to an emotional response, and other animals don’t seem to do it.

      It could have evolved as a type of non-verbal communication, to show others that we are sad, so they will leave us alone or stop doing whatever it is that is hurting us. But scientists still really don’t know!!

    • Photo: John Gleeson

      John Gleeson answered on 19 Nov 2015:

      Emma nailed it as per usual 🙂

      Often you can notice the difference between irritant tears and emotional tears based on whether the eyes get red with the blood vessels being more prominent. This tends to happen in irritant tears in particular 🙂

    • Photo: Andrew Quigley

      Andrew Quigley answered on 19 Nov 2015:

      I’m going to have to be quicker answering these questions. Emma and John always answer them so well, there’s nothing left for me to say 🙂