Have you noticed that when we yawn, our eyes tear up? Have you ever wondered why this happens? We have always read or heard that yawning is contagious. When you see someone yawn, you might also end up yawning. You may notice that yawning can cause you to shed a tear or two.
When we yawn, the facial muscles surrounding our eyes pull tight. This action puts pressure on our lacrimal glands, which are neatly tucked away deep beneath our upper eyelids just below our eyebrow bones. Lacrimal glands are responsible for producing the natural, watery substance that makes up our tears. They work to produce and release tears slowly throughout the day in order to coat the surface of our eyes, not just when we cry but at all times. Think about it- that is why our eyes always look so glossy! When the facial muscles tighten during a yawn, the lacrimal glands may get “squeezed,” thereby causing them to release a small amount of tears. These are the tears that have been stored away and that have been waiting to be released when needed.
An image of an eye with a person is lying on the floor yawning while their eye is tearing. Illustration by Rohan Mitchell.
Hopefully, reading this article has not induced any yawning; but the next time you do yawn, pay attention to the tightening of the muscles around your eyes. Feel the sensation, and then take note of whether or not you get a little teary-eyed. It’s not sad; it’s just science.
Read more articles from Why? – Series on our Zealousness blog and inside the margins of our e-magazine Why? – Series – iN Education Inc. (ineducationonline.org).
- Cheryl G. Murphy. “Why Do My Eyes Tear Up When I Yawn?” Quora.com Why Do My Eyes Tear Up When I Yawn? | HuffPost Impact