Is it possible to sneeze with your eyes open?

Ahhhhh…choo! We all know that familiar sound. It’s the sound of someone sneezing, and it’s often accompanied by a spray of saliva and other fluids from the nasal cavity.

Of course, when you sneeze, you usually don’t see those fluids being expelled from your nose. Why not? Because your eyes are closed! If you’ve ever wondered about it or observed other people sneezing, you know that the eyes automatically shut just before the sneeze comes out of the nose. But what is the reason behind this?

If you ask kids on the playground, some of them might tell you a crazy story. For many years, a myth has circulated from school to school. It typically goes something like this: “If you sneeze with your eyes open, your eyes will pop out of your head.” Is there any truth to this claim?

No worries, fellow sneezers! The act of sneezing, also known as sternutation, will not cause your eyes to pop out, even if you sneeze with your eyes open. And yes, it is possible to sneeze with your eyes open. It’s just very challenging and requires a conscious effort to keep your eyes open. Some people who attempt to sneeze with their eyes open can only achieve this by holding their eyelids open!

This interesting phenomenon occurs because the eyes instinctively close when you sneeze due to one of the body’s involuntary reflexes. This means that your brain sends a signal to your eye muscles to close your eyes before a sneeze, without you consciously thinking about it or doing anything.

Some believe that this reflex developed to prevent the expelled substances from entering the eyes during the sneezing process. Others believe it’s simply a reflex with no specific purpose.

When you sneeze, it’s usually because something is tickling or irritating the inside of your nose. Common irritants can include dust, cold air, pepper, as well as inflammation and irritation from a cold, the flu, or allergies. Just like a cough removes unwanted particles from your throat and lungs, sneezing is your body’s way of getting rid of unwanted particles from your nasal passages.

In addition to the brain, other parts of your body, such as your abdominal muscles, chest muscles, diaphragm, and throat muscles, work together to quickly expel air out of your nose and clear out the unwanted particles. Scientists estimate that the material expelled from your nose during a sneeze can travel at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour!

That’s a lot of force behind a sneeze, but don’t worry. Your eyeballs are safe. First, the passages and muscles involved in a sneeze are not connected to your eyes. More importantly, the muscles that control your eyeballs keep them securely in place at all times.

Even eye doctors would tell you that your eyelid muscles are not strong enough to prevent your eyeballs from staying in place if they were being pushed out of their sockets. Fortunately, you don’t have to be concerned about that happening as a result of a simple sneeze!

Give it a try

We hope you didn’t run out of tissues reading today’s Wonder of the Day! Continue learning more by engaging in the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Ahhhh…choo! A sneeze can indicate allergies or an impending cold. What do you do when you experience a bout of sneezing? Sometimes, simply blowing your nose can relieve the issue. Other times, especially if allergies are involved, you may require an over-the-counter medication for assistance. Consult with an adult friend or family member regarding the medications they suggest for combating sneezing caused by allergies. If you wish, you can also visit a local pharmacy to explore the range of products available for treating allergy symptoms!
  • Sneezes possess significant power. What if you could harness this power to improve the world? Just for fun, generate some imaginative and outlandish ideas for products that could convert sneeze power into other forms of energy. Could cows wear masks that utilize the power of their sneezes to operate milking machinery on a farm? What creative ideas can your mind conceive? If you want, create a visual representation that vividly illustrates your ideas! Share your concept with friends and family members for a good laugh!
  • What were you taught to say when someone nearby sneezes? Depending on your location, it could be a variety of phrases. Do people worldwide say the same thing after a sneeze? Find out! Conduct your own independent online research to discover the phrases used around the globe in response to a sneeze. Share your findings with a friend or family member!

FAQ

1. Can you sneeze with your eyes open?

No, it is not possible to sneeze with your eyes open. When you sneeze, your body goes through a reflex called the “sneeze reflex,” where air is forcefully expelled from your nose and mouth. Part of this reflex involves closing your eyes involuntarily. It is a protective mechanism to prevent any particles or droplets from entering your eyes during the sneeze. So, even if you try to keep your eyes open while sneezing, your body will automatically close them.

2. Is it dangerous to sneeze with your eyes open?

No, it is not dangerous to sneeze with your eyes open because it is simply not possible. As mentioned earlier, the sneeze reflex involves the involuntary closing of your eyes. Trying to keep your eyes open while sneezing would require consciously overriding this reflex, which is not recommended. Sneezing is a natural bodily function that helps clear irritants from your nose and throat, and closing your eyes during a sneeze is a protective mechanism to prevent any potential harm to your eyes.

3. Why do our eyes close when we sneeze?

Our eyes close when we sneeze as part of the sneeze reflex. The sneeze reflex is a protective mechanism that helps expel irritants or foreign particles from our nose and throat. When you sneeze, the muscles in your face and throat contract, including the muscles responsible for closing your eyelids. This involuntary action is designed to protect your eyes from any potential harm that could be caused by the forceful expulsion of air, droplets, or particles during a sneeze.

4. Can keeping your eyes open while sneezing cause any harm?

Keeping your eyes open while sneezing is not recommended and can potentially cause harm. When you sneeze, your body goes through a reflex that involves forcefully expelling air, droplets, and particles from your nose and mouth. The force of a sneeze can be quite strong, and keeping your eyes open can increase the risk of these particles entering your eyes, leading to irritation, infection, or injury. It is best to allow your body to naturally close your eyes during a sneeze to protect your eyes from any potential harm.

5. Are there any myths associated with sneezing with your eyes open?

Yes, there are several myths associated with sneezing with your eyes open. One common myth is that if you sneeze with your eyes open, your eyeballs will pop out. This is not true. The muscles and structures that hold your eyeballs in place are strong enough to withstand the force of a sneeze, even if your eyes were open. Another myth is that keeping your eyes open while sneezing can cause your eyes to dry out. While it is true that sneezing can temporarily disrupt the tear film on your eyes, it does not cause any long-term damage or dryness.

6. Can anyone sneeze with their eyes open?

No, it is not possible for anyone to sneeze with their eyes open. The sneeze reflex, which involves the involuntary closing of the eyes, is a natural and automatic response that occurs in everyone. Even if someone were to try to consciously keep their eyes open while sneezing, their body would override this attempt and close their eyes to protect them from any potential harm. Sneezing is a reflex that cannot be controlled or altered voluntarily in terms of keeping the eyes open.

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