You feel an itching sensation in your eye as if an eyelash has gotten into it. You run to the bathroom and check on the mirror only to see there’s no stray eyelash. But what you noticed is that there’s a tiny hole on your lower eyelid, which you may have failed to notice for years.
You start to wonder what the little hole is. The good news is that it’s perfectly normal – everyone has that. It’s just interesting to know what it does for your body.
The tiny hole your eyelids is called a lacrimal punctum.
The lacrimal punctum (pl. puncta) is a normal part of the human eye; some are larger compared to others. Not only may you have missed the presence of that hole but there are actually two of them, one each for the lower and upper eyelids of both eyes.
There have been misconceptions about the purpose of this lacrimal punctum, mainly that it produces tears. It does not. It is, however, part of the eye drainage system. Whereas the tear glands produce the tears, the punctum collects and drains the tears, which is why you get the sniffles after crying.
Think of the punctum as an opening of a canal, which connects your eye to the lacrimal sac. The tears then drain from the sac to the lacrimal duct located in the nose. This is the reason you’ll have a runny nose after crying.
There’s also a procedure that should stop the hole from collecting so many tears.
It involves placing tiny plugs into these holes.
Disgusting and horrible as it may sound, the medical procedure is done to stop the eye from draining so many tears, thus preventing dry eyes. Doing so actually keeps the eyes moist and healthier and more capable of fighting infections. Indications for this procedure include dry eye syndrome, keratitis, Sjogren’s syndrome and recurrent erosion of the cornea.
There are also instances in which the lacrimal punctum backfires and will reverse the flow of the fluids. That means there are cases where air, tears, discharge and even blood to come out of the tiny hole. Disgusting? Yes, but some people are actually doing that on purpose — with milk.
Check out this record-breaking guy squirt milk out of his eyes.
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