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Reflex tears
 
IN BRIEF

Watery tears that flood the eye in response to irritation.

 
DISCUSSION

Reflex tears are of a different consistency and quantity than the basal tears which normally coat the corneal epithelium. They do not have the balanced components that basal tears do and their purpose is to flood the eye in response to a foreign body or irritant.

Severe surface dryness can stimulate reflex tears, which is why watery eyes can be a symptom of dry eye (paradoxical though it sounds). The reflex tears do not have the ability to properly lubricate the surface of the eye - which requires tear components that help adhesion of tears to the eye - so merely having lots of reflex tears does not improve the dry condition of the eye.

 
ILLUSTRATIONS

 

 
links and references

ZONE LINK: Dry Eye FAQ: My eyes are watery. How can they be dry?

ABSTRACT: Basal and stimulated human tear analysis. II. Chemical analysis: lactoferrin and lysozyme. Stuchell RN, Farris RL, Mandel ID. Ophthalmology. 1981 Aug;88(8):858-61

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