The following are characteristics of the three types of tears:
Basal tears are basic functional tears. They are continuously released in small quantities to clear the cornea and keep the eyes lubricated. They also have antibacterial properties. Basal tears are essential to ensure good vision, as well as healthy and comfortable eyes. Too much screen time, exposure to wind while driving a bike, and certain acne medications can reduce basal tear production and cause dry eyes.
Reflex tears are also called irritant tears. They occur because of irritation of the eyes. This could be due to foreign particles, irritant chemical fumes, pepper spray, strong fragrances, tear gas smoke, bright lights, or chopping onions. They may also occur due to eating spicy food, vomiting, coughing, yawning, or prolonged screen time. Irritant tears may also be associated with redness of the eyes. Reflex tears are usually released in larger quantities than basal tears. The purpose of reflex tears is mainly protecting and clearing the eyes.
Emotional tears are also called psychic tears. They are referred to as crying or weeping. These tears are associated with all emotions. They are triggered due to emotional stress, anger, sadness, physical pain, or even extreme happiness (happy tears) and laughing. They are not always associated with negative emotions. Emotional tears are produced to stabilize the mood as quickly as possible. Therefore, many people often feel better after crying when they are under a lot of emotional stress. Emotional tears are may be associated with reddening of the eyes and/or face, sobbing (cough-like, convulsive breathing, and/or spasms of the whole upper body), increased heart rate, and decreased breathing rate. Emotional tears are produced in higher quantities than basal tears. They may be the same amount or more than reflex tears. Unlike, basal and reflex tears, emotional tears can be held back by the individual voluntarily, and they can stop when they want to.