Why do we close our eyes when we sneeze?

We generally have little warning that we’re about to sneeze. Some people sneeze two or three times in a row. I tend to hold off on saying “bless you”, or something like that, until I know the other person has stopped sneezing. Sneezing is a protective reflex, but why do we close our eyes when we sneeze?

sneezeDuring a sneeze, our chest muscles compress the lungs, forcing air upwards at a rapid pace in response to the signal tiny cilia in our nose sends to our brain that there is an irritant present.  The muscles in the throat and mouth contract in turn to forcefully push the air through the nasal passages. Because we draw in a breath just before we sneeze, the larger the breath taken in, the louder the sneeze.  Our eyes generally close as an involuntary reflex from the force of the sneeze.  However, some people do sneeze with their eyes wide open.  Most people admitted to having a polite, social sneeze to avoid embarrassment in public, and believe that holding in a sneeze can be harmful to your health.

In actuality, your eyes could conceivably become dislocated from their sockets to a degree that they can be pushed back into their sockets by a highly skilled ophthalmologist.  However, this is an extremely rare incidence.  Although, injury can occur when a sneeze is held back.  There have been cases whereby, as a result of blocking a sneeze already in progress, blood vessels have burst in the eyes and eardrums have ruptured from the extreme pressure. If you hold back sneezes with frequency, you become more susceptible to injury. These injuries can only be avoided by sneezing when necessary. It’s quite natural to sneeze and nothing to be ashamed of, so sneeze with confidence. Just be dignified about it!

West Side Eye Clinic

To make an appointment at West Side Eye Clinic to evaluate your vision, you can reach us at (504) 347-8434.  For more information, you can submit a request at info@westsideeyeclinic.com. We are located at 4601 Wichers Drive in  Marrero and are at your service Monday through Wednesday from 9am – 5pm; Thursday and Friday from 9am – 4pm; and by appointment only on Saturday.  Your complete eye health is our top priority!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.