Understanding and Alleviating Eye Burning After Crying: Essential Strategies and Tips

Understanding and Alleviating Eye Burning After Crying: Essential Strategies and Tips

Ever find yourself asking, “Why do my eyes burn when I cry?” You’re not alone. It’s a question that’s puzzled many. Tears, despite their simple appearance, are complex concoctions that play crucial roles in eye health. But sometimes, they seem to turn against us, causing discomfort or even a burning sensation.

This burning sensation can be quite unsettling. It’s not just the emotional turmoil that brings about the tears, but the physical discomfort that accompanies them. Understanding why this happens can provide some relief, and that’s exactly what we’ll explore in this article. So, let’s dive in and unravel the mystery behind your burning tears.

Key Takeaways

  • Tears aren’t just water but a complex mixture that plays a crucial role in maintaining eye health. They consist of three key layers: the lipid layer, the aqueous layer, and the mucous layer.
  • When you cry due to emotions or discomfort, a natural painkiller, Leucine-enkephalin, is produced. At times, an overproduction of tears can lead to a stinging or burning sensation.
  • The burning sensation, when crying, is a physiological response to the overproduction and stagnation of tears due to emotional triggers. This can cause the content of your tears to irritate the skin and eye surface resulting in discomfort.
  • Psychogenic tears produced during emotional moments contain a higher concentration of Leucine-enkephalin, which can disrupt the tear balance, causing a burning sensation.
  • Emotional tears contain stress hormones and substances that might induce a slight stinging sensation. However, crying from emotional distress rarely causes eye damage and mild irritations should resolve naturally. Seek professional help if severe burning or discomfort persists.
  • Staying hydrated, maintaining optimal eye hygiene, using warm compresses, and adjusting light levels can help manage the impact of emotional tears on the eyes. Regular eye examinations also promote healthier eyes.

The sensation of eye burning after crying can be uncomfortable, but it’s often manageable with the right care. Healthline explains the reasons behind eye irritation from tears and provides practical advice on how to soothe your eyes effectively. For more detailed care techniques, All About Vision offers insights into the various home remedies and eye care products that can help alleviate discomfort.

Composition of Tears

Composition of Tears

Tears are not simply water. They are a complex mixture loaded with immense biological importance. Understanding the composition of tears can throw light on the reasons behind the burning sensation you may experience when crying.

Ordinary, everyday tears, technically referred to as basal tears, play an essential role in maintaining optimal eye health. They’re not only responsible for keeping your eyes hydrated but also provide critical lubrication for the movement of your eyelids. Basal tears perform a defensive function as well. They contain antimicrobial proteins that help ward off potential infections.

The structural composition of basal tears includes three key layers:

  • The lipid layer, the outermost, responsible for preventing tear evaporation and ensuring tear spread.
  • The aqueous layer in the middle provides nourishment for your cornea and conjunctiva.
  • The mucous layer, the innermost layer, helps the tears adhere to your eye.

However, when you cry due to emotions or any discomfort, your eyes produce a different kind of tear – known as psychogenic tears. These bear a distinct compound known as Leucine-enkephalin, an endorphin that serves as a natural painkiller.

It’s important to keep in mind that, despite their protective composition, an overproduction of tears – as happens when you cry – can lead to a temporary imbalance in the tear makeup, resulting in a stinging or burning sensation.

Causes of Burning Sensation When Crying

Your eyes can sometimes sting or burn when you cry, and this isn’t a random occurrence. It’s actually a reaction elicited by your body’s response system to physiological or emotional triggers. Understanding the root cause behind these symptoms can be critical in managing them, much like identifying why babies cry is essential for soothing them.

Crying produces a higher volume of tears, which often surpasses the capacity of your lacrimal drainage system. This part of the eye is responsible for draining tears from the eye to the nose. So when tears overflow, they inevitably end up on the skin of your eyes and face. Yet, tears contain various substances—including salts, antibodies, lipids, and enzymes—that may irritate the skin, similarly to how the acidity in lemons and oranges can irritate sensitive skin.

Another catalyst for having burning eyes when crying is the stagnation of tears on the eye. Remember the aqueous layer of tears, the one that contains water and proteins to combat infections? If these tears don’t drain properly or evaporate promptly, they can cause the eye surface to become excessively dry, creating a burning or even an itching sensation. This effect is akin to how certain candies can leave a surprisingly sharp aftertaste. Similarly, just as ignoring the wear on car tires can lead to unexpected issues, neglecting to address the drying of tears promptly can result in discomfort or worse symptoms.

Moreover, psychogenic tears – the type you shed during emotional moments – contain a higher concentration of a protein-based hormone called Leucine-enkephalin. This substance has painkilling properties. But after an emotional outpour, this type of tear production can disrupt the tear balance, further provoking a burning experience.

Lastly, eye makeup or contact lenses can amplify this discomfort. Some ingredients in cosmetics are potential irritants and, combined with the overflow of tears, can lead to a stinging sensation. Likewise, contact lenses can trap these tears against the cornea, enhancing the burning effect.

Altogether, these factors can lead to a rather uncomfortable experience after crying. Yet, by identifying the cause, you can employ the right strategies to mitigate these symptoms and ensure your eyes remain as healthy as possible.

Impact of Emotional Tears on Eye Health

Tears aren’t just for expressing sadness or joy – they play a crucial role in maintaining your eye health. Beyond clearing out irritants, they help nourish the cornea with essential nutrients. When you’re undergoing emotional distress, your eyes step up tear production, which can lead to a burning sensation. So, are these tears damaging your eyes? Let’s dive in and explore this further.

One important fact you should know about is that emotional tears contain stress hormones and natural painkillers known as enkephalins. These substances are believed to induce a slight stinging sensation, which you may feel as a burning discomfort when crying excessively.

What’s more, excessive tears can overwhelm your eye’s drainage system. Your eyes can hold and drain a small amount at a time, and any overflow ends up on your face. This can lead to irritation due to the saltiness of the tears, further intensifying the burn.

Another matter to consider is the stagnation of tears on the surface of the eye. When you cry, your blink rate decreases, leading to a build-up of tears that can dry and irritate the ocular surface. This situation can be even more uncomfortable if you wear makeup or contact lenses.

Undeniably, there’s discomfort from crying, but rarely damage. Healthy eyes can withstand the temporary overload of tears and any mild irritations should resolve naturally. However, if you experience severe burning or lasting discomfort even after the tears have stopped, you should consult an eye care professional immediately.

Don’t panic at the thought of emotional tears causing harm. Realize instead that crying allows your body to express intense emotions, while your tears perform their cleaning and nourishing duties. By understanding these interactions, you can take the appropriate steps to ensure the optimal health of your eyes.

Tips for Relieving Burning Eyes When Crying

Tips for Relieving Burning Eyes When Crying

Eye discomfort can easily be a side effect during emotional moments. You can implement several strategies to alleviate this burning sensation post-crying. Following these practical steps can make the whole experience feel less distressing.

Staying hydrated is a crucial aspect. Tears are mainly composed of water. Not having enough hydration in your body can lead to dry, salty tears that have a greater tendency to irritate your eyes. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Not only does it benefit your overall health, but it also dilutes the salt in your tears. Reduced salt concentration can assist in minimizing eye burn.

Another helpful tip involves maintaining optimal eye hygiene. Ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly before and after crying. It minimizes the risk of transferring potentially irritating substances, such as dust or makeup residue, into your eyes. On a similar note, rinse your eyes with fresh water post-crying. It can remove any stagnant or overly salty tears from the eye’s surface.

You might also find temporary relief with a warm compress. Soak a clean cloth in warm water, squeeze out the excess, and gently place it over your closed eyes. Its heat helps in relaxing your ocular muscles, further reducing your discomfort.

Mindfulness and careful attention to your surroundings can also play an essential role in managing eye discomfort when crying. For instance, intense light can increase tear evaporation, leading to more concentrated tear salty content. So consider reducing the levels of light in your settings, especially when you’re on the verge of tears.

Primary advice, whenever you experience severe or lasting burning sensations after crying, is to immediately seek professional help. Prompt attention from eye care professionals can help avoid potential significant issues and provide suitable solutions for relief. Regular eye exams can also wish to keep a tab on any developing concerns and promote better eye health.

The key is awareness and implementing strategies that help manage the impact of emotional tears on your eyes. Remember, crying is a natural process tied to various physiological responses in your body. Caring for your eyes amidst such times proves essential for maintaining optimal eye health.


So, you’ve discovered why your eyes burn when you cry and how to combat it. It’s all about hydration, cleanliness, warmth, and mindfulness. Remember, your tears aren’t the enemy, but not taking care of your eyes could be. Dilute the saltiness of your tears with water, keep those hands clean to avoid irritation, and use warm compresses to relax your eye muscles. Don’t forget to pay attention to your environment’s lighting to minimize tear evaporation. If the discomfort persists, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Regular eye exams are crucial for maintaining eye health. By managing the effects of emotional tears on your eyes, you’re taking a big step towards optimal well-being.

How can hydration help with burning eyes after crying?

Hydration is crucial as it aids in diluting the saltiness of your tears. Consuming plenty of water can, therefore, alleviate the burning sensation in your eyes.

Why is eye hygiene important?

Keeping your eyes clean helps prevent irritation or further inflammation after a crying episode. It is recommended to wash your hands well before touching your eyes to reduce the risk of bringing dirt or bacteria into contact.

How does a warm compress help?

Applying a warm compress to closed eyes can help soothe the muscles around the eyes, providing relief from the strain often caused by crying.

What role does mindfulness play?

Being mindful about the lighting in your environment can reduce tear evaporation and the resultant dryness. This awareness can help prevent further discomfort.

When should professional help be sought?

If discomfort persists despite adopting self-care strategies, it may indicate a more serious issue. Regular eye exams are advised to monitor any changes in eye health and to catch potential problems early.

Should I be worried about my eye health after crying?

Chronic eye discomfort after crying is not normal and could indicate an underlying issue. However, occasional burning is typically harmless. Being proactive about eye self-care after crying can help maintain optimum eye health.