Eye Need To Know: Why Do My Eyes Shut When I Sneeze?

Photo: zidbits.com

Contrary to what you might have heard on the playground as a kid, you do not close your eyes when you sneeze to keep them from rolling out of your head.  The best explanation I could find came from an article in The Boston Globe: ”It is unclear, but scientists theorize that we close our eyes to protect them. We may be protecting our eyes from microorganisms and particles from our sneezes,” said Dr. Bonnie Henderson, director of comprehensive ophthalmology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. But it could also be simply because a sneeze is a kind of body-wide reflex in which a lot of muscles contract, not just in the nose and throat but also those in the diaphragm, the abdomen, thighs, back, even sphincters (which is why some people with stress incontinence may urinate slightly when they sneeze).”

Have you ever tried to sneeze without closing your eyes?  It is not impossible, but very difficult.

Something you need to know?  Ask Rebecca

Submitted by guest blogger, Rebecca Johnson, Founder of EyeTrain4You, an ophthalmic staff training and development company.  Contact her at Rebecca@EyeTrain4You.com

Aspire MidPage June 19


  1. Sneezes come out of our bodies at an absurd speed, I doubt that the “sneeze cloud” would get into our eyes if they were open. I like the muscle contraction observation. Fun Stuff.

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