Tears under the microscope

Different kinds of tears under microscope

Tears caused by sadness, happiness, and chopping onions look different under the microscope, photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher found as part of her project The Topography of Tears.

Tears contain oils, antibodies and enzymes suspended in salt and fall into three categories: basal (released continuously to keep the eyes lubricated), reflex (in response to irritants such as when chopping onions or when getting poked in the eye), and psychic (triggered by emotions).

Since the structures seen under the microscope are largely crystallized salt, the circumstances under which the tear dries can lead to radically dissimilar shapes and formations, so two psychic tears with the exact same chemical make-up can look very different.