What are my natural tears made of?
You’re watching The Notebook or Titanic (for the 20th time… shhhh.. we won’t tell, promise).
Your loved one gets down on one knee to finally put that ring on your finger.
Your baby smiles at you for the very first time.
All of these are tear worthy and tear evoking situations! But oh how we take our natural flowing tears for granted! What is this vital, lubricating fluid that shields our eyes and helps us see clearly even made of?
If you were busy snoozing during science class, no worries. We’ll break it down for you:
What are tears composed of?
Tears are composed of 3 things:
- Mucus: the inner layer, binding the tears to the eye.
- Water: the middle layer made up of minerals and vitamins crucial to normal cell function.
- Oil: the outer layer preventing tears from evaporating.
All 3 of these ingredients must be present in order to ensure proper eye lubrication.
How are tears made?
The water layer is secreted by our lacrymal glands and the oily layer by tiny little glands in our eyelids called Meibomian (mī-bō′mē-ən) glands.
There are between 25 to 40 glands in the upper eyelid and 20 to 30 in the lower eyelid. The function of these glands is to secret oils onto the surface of the eye. These oils prevent the tears from evaporating too quickly.
When does Dry Eye occur?
Dry eyes will occur if: 1) you are not producing enough tears or 2) the oily component of your tears are of poor quality.
The importance of the oily part is to prevent the water from evaporating. Therefore, even if you are producing enough tears, if your eyes are not able to keep those tears on the surface, your eyes will feel very dry. That’s where your eye doctor comes in! They will perform a thorough examination to determine where the problem is coming from and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
When do you need Artificial Tears?
Lack of tears will likely require the instilling artificial tears during the day or possibly prescription eye drops to increase the volume of tears. Increasing the oily layer will require taking omega 3's, using a heating mask, and possibly oral medications when necessary.
Treatment options are available to help manage symptoms! Take care of your eyes daily and you will see the difference.
Wishing you well,
The Eye Drop Shop Team xo__________________________________________________________________________
MGD: getting to the root cause of dry eye. Review of Optometry. June 2012.