What Makes Over-55s Cry?

Optometrist Sarah Farrant talking to a patient

New research has revealed the biggest Tear Triggers for the over-55s – with memories, movies and pain topping the list.

A national survey found that the average Brit will cry 3,608 times over their adult lifetime – that’s nearly 5 times every month!

New eyecare service Tear Clinic has launched the Tear Triggers campaign to help people see what is triggering their teary eyes.

Its study of 2,000 adults found that a third of over-55s admit to being a big crier – crying often, or at little things.

Psychologist Emma Kenny says, “While crying can be a healthy way to express our emotions, there are things we can do to live a less tearful life. It might even be a sign of an underlying health problem.”

Tear Clinic’s research has revealed the things that most often make over-55s cry. Unsurprisingly sad movies, memories and funerals top the list. Grief, pain and worries also cause us to well up on a regular basis.

Happy Tears

But it’s not always negative, with 35% of over 55s regularly crying for happy reasons, and 20% admit to crying because we’re proud of our children or grandchildren.

Some participants revealed the oddest and funniest things they’ve cried over:

“Crying with laughter when my granddaughter told my husband that he’s a ‘hairy pig hippo’ because of his hairy arms and legs”

“I accidentally cooked the Christmas turkey a day early”

“I ran over a family pet when I was parking the car – only to realise it was a teddy bear!”

“I cried with laughter when I really did see a man in a suit slipping over on a banana skin”

“I well up every time I hear a brass band, especially The Salvation Army at Christmas”

Weeping in front of work colleagues would leave most over-55s feeling most embarrassed, followed by  strangers, their boss and acquaintances. Yet almost one in 5 admit they’d also be left red-faced if they shed a tear in front of  friends (18%) or their children (14%).

Researchers also found 58% of over-55s believe their eyes are crucial when it comes to expressing how they feel. While 78% of us associate crying with sadness, 43% see it as a sign of sympathy or pity, and more than a third of this age group see it as vital for emotional release.

“For many of us, crying is simply a healthy way of expressing our emotions,” explains psychologist Emma Kenny. “A wealth of research identifies that crying reduces emotional stress and makes us feel calmer, which is great for wellbeing.

“Whilst it can feel scary, or a little embarrassing, to get emotional in front of other people, the truth is that we all get upset sometimes, and learning to be OK with the way we feel is key to a happy life.”

Dry Eye Disease

Watery or red eyes, however, don’t always point to crying, with 2 in 5 respondents experiencing teary eyes when tired.

55% suffer with watery eyes thanks to windy weather, while others say air conditioning, central heating, and staring at computer screens trigger symptoms.

Triggers for Dry Eye Disease include:

  • Too much screen
  • Contact lenses
  • Hangover
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Weather
  • Central heating
  •  Air Conditioning
  • Long haul flights
  • Reading for long periods
  • Make-up

Optometrist Sarah Farrant explains, “Red, sore and watery eyes can actually be a sign of Dry Eye Disease, when our eyes water too much to compensate for the dryness. It’s a condition that’s increasingly common due to our modern lifestyles and reliance on computers and screens.

“Symptoms can flare up when we are concentrating and not blinking as often as we should, causing dry spots to form on the surface of our eyes.

“Signs include irritation, redness, wateriness or a ‘gritty’ feeling when we close our eyes. Ensuring you’re using a preservative-free eye drop like Hycosan Fresh (£8.99 from opticians and pharmacies) is key to healthy, hydrated and comfortable eyes.”

Optometrist Sarah Farrant takes a tear sample from a mature woman

Optometrist Sarah Farrant takes a tear sample

Tear Clinics are now being set up to address this growing issue, which in extreme cases, if left unmanaged, can lead to scarring of the front surface of the eye . Tear Clinics will be available at optometry practices around the UK to help diagnose and manage dry eye disease with treatment plans to help relieve symptoms and prevent potential future problems.

More information on Dry Eye Disease and your nearest Tear Clinic

Top 10 reasons over-55s cry:

  1. Sad moments or memories
  2. A sad movie, TV show or book
  3. Funerals
  4.  Grief
  5. Happy moments or memories
  6. Pain or discomfort
  7. Anxiety, worries or fears
  8. Pride about children
  9. Arguments with a partner
  10. Tiredness

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Sarah Proctor

I've worked on a variety of regional newspapers and national magazines. My Weekly and Your Best Ever Christmas are fantastic, warm-hearted brands with an amazing, talented team. I'm a sub-editor and particularly love working on cookery, fiction and advice pages - I feel I should know all the secrets of eternal life, health and happiness by now, but hey, we all need that regular reminder!