What Do Tears Look Like Under Microscope? The Topography of Tears By Rose-Lynn Fisher


What Do Tears Look Like Under Microscope

Neither tears are just salt water, nor a sign of weakness. Our tears carry a microcosm of the collective human experience. Rose-Lynn Fisher revealed what your tears under microscope look like. Scroll down to know the beauty of your tears, you’ll surely be surprised.

Photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher is known for her mind-blowing images of honey bees that she captured in an entirely new light using a powerful scanning electron microscope.

In 2010, she published her book of remarkable images including magnified bees’ microscopic structures. These images magnified by a hundred or thousand times in size are jaw-dropping. The abstract forms of images are usually not possible to see by the naked human eye.  

Later she again surprised people with startling results of her new project called “Topography of Tears.” Her research was focused on “dried human tears” and with amazing photography skills, she generated an unexpected view of human tears under microscope. 

What do tears look like under a microscope?
Tears of change, photo © Rose-Lynn Fisher, courtesy of the artist and Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

Life offers a roller coaster ride and no one has the option to deny it. Not even Fisher! She started her project on human tears when she was going through several ups and downs in life and suffered many losses. So, she had enough raw materials to start her project on tears. 

What inspired Fisher to work on this research was startling images of honey bee structure as well as images of a fragment of her own hip bone removed during her surgery. It was then realization dawned on her and she said, “everything we see in our lives is just the tip of the iceberg, visually”. 

She was driven by curiosity to know what tears look like under a microscope.

Tears of ending and beginning by rose-Lynn Fishe
Tears of ending and beginning, photo © Rose-Lynn Fisher, courtesy of the artist and Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

What do tears look like under a microscope?

She caught one of her own tears on a slide and allowed it to dry. Then she placed the slide on the holder of a standard light microscope. She said that the aerial view of her tears appeared like a landscape when looked down from a plane.

In her words, human tears under microscope are like “aerial views of emotion terrain.”

Then she started pondering if all the tears under a microscope looked the same or if tears of joy differ from tears of grief. So, she decided to compare different types of tears under a microscope and launched a multi-year photography project.

She collected, examined, and photographed more than 100 tears from both herself and a handful of other volunteers including a newborn baby.

Onion tears under microscope
Onion tears under microscope, photo © Rose-Lynn Fisher, courtesy of the artist and Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

Different types of tears under microscope

Fisher divided tears into separate categories based on their origin:

1. Reflex tears – are secreted when dust particles or irritants, like dust, onion vapors or tear gas enter into eyes. 

2. Tears of grief – rolled down your eyes when you are sad or grieving. 

3. Basal tears – Keeps the cornea of our eyes lubricated. They are released continuously in tiny quantities (on average, 0.75 to 1.1 grams over a 24-hour period).

4. Tears of joy – secreted when you are happy. 

5. Psychic tears – triggered by extreme positive or negative emotions.

All types of tears contain a biological substance suspended in saltwater –  it can be antibodies, enzymes like lysozyme that is antibacterial, or oil.

Fisher found that different types of tears contain distinct molecules. For instance, emotional tears contain protein-based hormones including the neurotransmitter leucine enkephalin, which is a natural painkiller – released when you’re under stress. 

But, she said that the microscopic structures of dried human tears are mainly crystallized salt. Tear dries in different circumstances and when viewed in the microscope results in dissimilar shapes and formations. 

It is possible that two psychic tears having the same chemical composition can look very different up close. It is because of various factors like viscosity, chemistry, the setting of the microscope, evaporation rate, and so on.

As tears look like large-scale landscapes Fisher says, “It’s amazing to me how the patterns of nature seem so similar, regardless of scale”. 

The branched crystalline patterns of dried tears (that are formed in less than a moment) viewed in a microscope resemble patterns of erosion that are etched into the earth over decades. 

Basal tears under microscope
Basal tears under microscope, photo © Rose-Lynn Fisher, courtesy of the artist and Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Laughing tears under microscope
Laughing tears under microscope, photo © Rose-Lynn Fisher, courtesy of the artist and Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

Your tears are unique!

Fisher’s amazing study confirms that tears are more than just a salty liquid discharged when you are happy or sad. 

“Tears are the medium of our most primal language in moments as unrelenting as death, as basic as hunger, and as complex as a rite of passage,” she says.

“It’s as though each one of our tears carries a microcosm of the collective human experience, like one drop of an ocean,” She added. 

Did you enjoy reading and viewing human tears under a microscope? Share your opinion by commenting below and stay tuned as The Minds Journal is coming up with many more interesting topics for you.

Do Different Types of Tears Look Different Under a Microscope?

Some viral memes claim that there are differences between tears of grief and tears of other emotions. Well, it is true that there are different types of tears, each with it is own biological origin and containing its own unique makeup.

But, exactly how these tears are differentiated and what they look like under a microscope depends on myriad factors. According to Snopes.com, this process is poorly understood by the scientific community. It is misleading and inaccurate to say that tears of one emotion are “structurally different” than those of another. For more refer to Snopes.com.


  • Fisher, R.L., Frey, W.H. and Lauterbach, A., 2017. The topography of tears. New York: Bellevue Literary Press.
  • Basha, F.Y.S., Gayathri, R., Vardhan, A. and Priya, V.V., 2018. Analysis of tears-An in vitro study. Drug Invention Today10(8).
  • Frey, W.H., foreword to Rose-Lynn Fisher. The Topography of Tears.
  • Fisher, R.L. and Klinkenborg, V., 2010. Bee (No. 2/11). New York, NY, USA: Princeton Architectural press.
  • Hasson, O., 2009. Emotional tears as biological signals. Evolutionary Psychology7(3), p.147470490900700302.

Disclaimer :

This article is for your entertainment/infotainment purposes. We have employed our own due diligence in developing accurate and quality information for the readers of this website. We cannot assure you that all of the information provided will always be accurate or up to date, nor can we take responsibility for your use of this information.

You may also like:

Different Types of Human Tears As Seen Under A Microscope
Rose-Lynn Fisher Tears – Different types of tears under microscope
What Do Tears Look Like Under Microscope pin

— Share —

— About the Author —


  1. Maragadham Periyanayagi Avatar
    Maragadham Periyanayagi

    Suder Vizhi

Leave a Reply

Up Next

Women In Science: 7 Famous Female Scientists Who Redefine History

Famous Female Scientists Who Redefine History

Throughout history, women have been overshadowed by men. But behind the breakthroughs and innovations, there is a group of incredible and famous female scientists that has left their mark on the scientific world.

When was the last time you were asked to name a great scientist? Chances are, the likes of Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein popped into your head and for good reason — they made groundbreaking discoveries.

But if you’re like most people, men are probably all that comes to mind when thinking of great scientists. That’s because many famous women scientists have been left o

Up Next

Neuro-Ninja Training: 10 Indoor Brain Strengthening Games For A Sharp Mind

Powerful Brain Strengthening Games For A Sharp Mind

Do you want to exercise your brain in the most fun, interesting, and most importantly, enjoyable way possible? Then you have come to the right place! Keeping your mind sharp and your brain alert is one of the most powerful things you can do. That’s why, we have compiled a list of brain strengthening games for you to try.

These brain strengthening games will boost your brain, keep you entertained and also increase your intellect. No more of those boring games to improve memory and concentration, because these are designed to be fun and exciting.

So, ready to explore how you can train your brain with games? Le

Up Next

Music And Plant Growth: Exploring The Magical Effect Of Music On Plant Growth

Science Behind the Effect of Music on Plant Growth

Music lies at the heart of nature. Whether it’s the chirping of birds, the trickle of water, or the gush of wind. No wonder plants have a penchant for music! Yup, you heard that right! Plants not only enjoy music but it even helps them grow. Let’s take a look at the effect of music on plant growth.

Music may soothe that savage beast, but it can also make

Up Next

How Do Some People ‘Hear’ Colors And ‘See’ Sounds? — A Look Into Synesthesia

What Is Synesthesia? Interesting Types Of Synesthesia?

What does the color red sound like? Only those with the power of synesthesia can truly “hear” it. It is a secret power that about 4% of people have – their senses make unexpected connections.

Researchers are now diving into this new world to understand more about these sensory experiences where one is hearing colors and seeing sounds. So let’s dive in and learn what is synesthesia actually.

What Is Synesthesia?

Up Next

The Eternalism Philosophy Of Time: Is Our Future Already Fixed?

Eternalism Philosophy Of Time: Is Future Fixed? Five Criticisms

Are you intrigued by the nature of time and reality? If so, the concept of eternalism philosophy may fascinate you. This controversial view of time challenges our traditional understanding of past, present, and future, and offers a new perspective on the nature of reality.

The philosophy of time and space

What is time? Time is a concept that has fascinated and perplexed humans for centuries. We experience time every day, yet it remains an elusive and mysterious concept. 

Time seems simple at first glance but raises complex questions. Philosophers have grappled with the nature of time for centuries, and there are

Up Next

The Dark Side Of AI: Ethical Issues Of Artificial Intelligence And Robotics

Seven Ethical Issues Of Artificial Intelligence And Robotics

Ever wondered if AI will takeover human civilization? As artificial intelligence and robotics continue to advance, there are growing ethical concerns that must be addressed. Let us explore the potential risks and ethical issues of artificial intelligence and robotics related to their development and use.

The rise of AI: Artificial intelligence and ethics

Artificial intelligence and robotics are advancing at an incredible rate. While these technologies have the potential to transform our lives for the better, they also raise serious ethical issues that need to be addressed. 

Responsibility an

Up Next

25+ Best Plants To Detox Your Home: Purifying Your Living Space With Nature’s Greenery

25+ Best Plants To Detox Your Home

Nature heals both body and mind and bringing nature indoors can reenergize your soul and purify your living space. So what are the best plants to detox your home?

In today’s fast-paced and urbanized world, our homes often become a sanctuary from the outside environment. However, it is surprising to know that indoor air pollution can sometimes be more hazardous than outdoor pollution.

Household products, synthetic materials, and even certain cleaning agents can release harmful toxins into the air we breathe. Fortunately, nature provides us with a simple and effective solution: