Why Do Onions Make Us Cry?

What is so special about onions that makes them make our eyes feel like they are burning?

The human eye gives us the ability to see from a variety of distances and with excellent quality. Thanks to its amazing abilities, vision is the most dominant sense through which we experience the world.

As the leading sensory organ in the human body, the eye is equipped with a multi-layered defense system designed to keep it safe. At the top of this defense system is the eye socket that protects it from blunt mechanical damage. Immediately after it are the eyelids, which close in response to any potential injury or penetration of a foreign object into the eye. The third and final part of this defense system is tears, which protect against any drops that may enter your eye.

Tears are a machine to defend the eye, and they’re complex and different from one another. Tears can have many functions like crying out for help or assessing social signals and chemical signals.

The human eye has two tear glands and old tears are drained from the eye in small quantities. Although there is not a continuous stream, it is estimated that humans shed about 120 liters of tears each year.

The first layer of tears is a mucous layer, followed by the aqueous layer. The aqueous layer is above the mucous one, and contains antibacterial substances that protect the area from bacteria. Finally, there is the last part of the tears, which is the lipid one. This layer creates an environment that facilitates the sharper vision and acts as a shield to prevent evaporation of the other two layers.

Why onions make us cry and what the difference is

Tears are only a response to a foreign or dangerous object within the eye and are secreted as the eye’s washing mechanism. However, in cases of emergency such as the eye being exposed to dangerous chemicals or material, large amounts of reflexive tears are secreted. In these situations, we may find ourselves with watery eyes and tears cascading down our cheeks.

How do onions make our eyes tear up

Emotional tears are the most intriguing of all types of tears. Tears are a physiological and chemical tool that assist individuals with coping with their state of mind. These lucky individuals may shed tears in response to feeling stressed, tense, angry, sad, happy, or helpless. Sociologists believe that these tears are a social mechanism designed to gain sympathy from other members of the group and express the individual’s emotional state but many recent findings have emerged pointing to these tears having a significant physiological function as well.

Prof. Noam Sobel discovered that through up-to-date research, tears transmit human chemical signals to the environment, and affect the behavior of people around us.

6 Insights into why onions make people cry

Most people shed tears at some point in their lifetime. Tears can be reflexive or emotional, and that has led to research on them and even art. For example, one artist photographed the different tears and then made a display of them.

The first image in the exhibition is a tear shed during a long-awaited emotional moment. The second one presents tears of change. After this is tears of ending, onion tears, and basal tears. The last image in the exhibition is a tear shed from happiness. Each tear is made up of different substances and varied concentrations of those same substances.

You might think you can’t cry in space, but Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield proved otherwise. Watch his demonstration of water acting as a counterweight, and how it feels to stimulate the crying process with water.

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