Why Do Your Eyes Water When You Yawn : The Science Behind It

Why Do Your Eyes Water When You Yawn
Why Do Your Eyes Water When You Yawn

Have you ever wondered why your eyes water when you yawn? It’s a common phenomenon that many people experience, and there is a scientific explanation behind it. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the watery eyes during a yawn.

The Tear Reflex

Yawning is a reflex action that involves opening one’s mouth wide and inhaling deeply due to tiredness or boredom. While yawning, some people notice that their eyes begin to water involuntarily. This occurs due to the tear reflex, also known as the lacrimation reflex.

The tear reflex is an automatic response controlled by the body’s nervous system. It is responsible for producing tears, which help to keep our eyes moist and cleanse them from any foreign particles or irritants. It serves as a protective mechanism for the eyes.

Stimulation of Tear Glands

When you yawn, the muscles around your eyes, known as the orbicularis oculi muscle, contract and put pressure on the tear glands located in the upper and lower eyelids. This pressure stimulates the tear glands, leading to an increased production of tears.

The stimulation of tear glands is similar to the response caused by other stimuli, such as strong winds, bright lights, or the presence of onion fumes. These stimuli can also cause tears to be produced as a protective mechanism.

Connection with Facial Muscles

Yawning isn’t just limited to muscles in and around your mouth; it also involves the muscles in your face and eyes. The orbicularis oculi muscle, mentioned earlier, is connected to other facial muscles, including the zygomaticus major muscle and the levator labii superioris muscle.

During a yawn, the contraction of these interconnected muscles can put pressure on the tear glands, leading to the production of tears. This explains why some people may experience more significant tear production during a yawn compared to others.

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Role of Emotional Response

In addition to the physiological explanations, there is also an emotional component that can trigger watery eyes during a yawn. Yawning can be contagious, and when we observe others yawning, it can elicit an emotional response.

Research suggests that yawning and emotional contagion are closely linked. When we see someone yawning, our brain’s mirror neurons activate, causing us to imitate the yawn. This mimicking of the yawn can stimulate the tear glands, leading to watery eyes.

Why Do Your Eyes Water When You Yawn  : The Science Behind It

Credit: www.medicalnewstoday.com

Why Do Your Eyes Water When You Yawn  : The Science Behind It

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Frequently Asked Questions On Why Do Your Eyes Water When You Yawn : The Science Behind It

Why Do Your Eyes Water When You Yawn?

When you yawn, the facial muscles squeeze tear glands, causing excess tear production.

Can Yawning Also Make Your Eyes Feel Itchy?

Yes, yawning can irritate the eyes, making them itchy due to pressure changes.

Why Do Tears Appear When We Yawn?

Tears appear when we yawn due to increased production and insufficient drainage.

Does Everyone Experience Watery Eyes During Yawning?

Most people will experience watery eyes when yawning, due to tear overproduction.


In summary, the watery eyes experienced during a yawn are primarily due to the tear reflex, which is an automatic response involving the stimulation of tear glands. The contraction of facial muscles and emotional responses also play a role in this phenomenon.

Next time you find yourself yawning and your eyes start to water, remember that it’s just a normal physiological response. Our bodies have fascinating mechanisms that work harmoniously to perform everyday functions, including the tears that keep our eyes moist.

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