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Why Can't We Sneeze With Our Eyes Open? Here's What Science Says

Why Can't We Sneeze With Our Eyes Open?
It's true that we can't sneeze with our eyes open, because the action of closing eyes and sneezing is automatic. But, did you know, (achoo!! excuse me) that some people can actually train themselves to sneeze with their eyes open?
Pragya T
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Sneezing is good for us. It aids in getting rid of germs and other foreign particles out of the body. When something tickles in the nose, or if you have a cold or a dust particle stuck in the nose; then the body's natural response is to sneeze. However, one thing that seems impossible while sneezing is - to keep the eyes open. Yep, we can't sneeze with our eyes open. Here's more on this ordinary phenomenon.

The Science of Sneezing

As already mentioned, sneezing is an automatic action. It is a reflex. The medical term for sneezing is sternutation, which means the act of involuntary expulsion of air from the nose.

Call it an involuntary or automatic action, reflex, natural response, the fact remains that it is next to impossible to keep your eyes open while sneezing! As you can't control air escaping out of your nose during a sneeze, you will not able to control the motion of your eyes too. The muscles of the eyes act automatically when the action of sneezing occurs. The whole action of sneezing is quite a complex process; when the inside wall of your nose gets tickled, a message is sent to the sneeze center inside your brain. This center sends a message to the muscles of chest, diaphragm, stomach, back of the throat and the eyelids. All these muscles work in tandem to sneeze out the irritants.

Therefore, not only the eyelids, but also chest or stomach muscles are beyond your control during a sneezing action. On the other hand, there have been some instances where people have managed to sneeze while keeping their eyes open. Weird, huh?

Yes, some rare individuals can sneeze with their eyes open. However, it is not natural. These people train themselves to sneeze while keeping the eyelids open with their fingers. Ouch! Sounds painful... You can check out several videos of this body trick on the Internet.
Young girl sneezing
Here are two myths related to sneezing which are now debunked.

Myth: Your eyes will pop out, if you do not close them while sneezing.

Myth: The germs or irritants that are expelled during a sneeze can go right back into your eyes, if you do not keep them closed.
Interesting Facts About Sneezing
✦ The fastest sneeze recorded is 103.6 mph (167 km/h)!
✦ Did you know that there are people who sneeze when they are exposed to sunlight? They are called photic sneezers. It seems this condition runs in the family.
✦ Plucking hair from your eyebrow can make you sneeze
✦ Iguanas sneeze more often than other animals. They sneeze to get rid of salts which are formed during digestion.
✦ Did you know that Donna Griffiths from England has the longest sneezing attack of 978 days?
Body Tricks That are Impossible to Do
Just as you can't keep your eyes open while sneezing, there are certain body tricks that you will find are beyond the bounds of your ability.
✦ You can't lick your elbow.
✦ You can't tickle yourself.
✦ Everybody's seen Samantha twitch her nose in Beitched, but the trick is impossible to do, at least by a human.
✦ You can't lick your nose or chin.
Man sticking out tongue
✦ Here is something you can try. Sit on a chair and start making clockwise circle with your right foot on the floor. Then, with your right hand's index finger try to draw '6'. Impossible, isn't it?
Though, the aforementioned tricks are impossible to perform for an average individual, a few people can do them with considerable ease. Just like most of us can't really put our whole fist in the mouth, but some people gifted with small hands and big mouth, can accomplish this feat.
Scientists still can't explain why we can't keep our eyes wide open while sneezing. Hence, it is reasoned out that it is the body's natural response to keep the eyes closed while sneezing. Anyway, next time you sneeze, bless you!