Why do we close our eyes when sneezing?

It’s almost systematic: when a sneeze takes us, we close our eyes. A team of American researchers is trying to explain to us why this reflex of the human body occurs.

In reality, closing your eyes during a sneeze is not systematic, it is possible to keep your eyes open, says Dr. David Huston, professor at Texas A & M College of Medicine in Houston and allergist.  » The fact that it’s possible to sneeze with your eyes open suggests it’s not « hardwired » or required “, he said in a press release.  » Blinking while sneezing isn’t entirely clear, but likely plays a protective role « .

Sneezing protects the passage through our nasal passages from foreign particles by forcing a passage of air from our lungs at around 16 km/h (previously this passage was estimated at around 160 km/h, but a 2013 study published in the review Plos One has greatly reduced the speed of sneezing).

But sneezing involves more than just the expulsion of air and foreign particles. When stimulated, brain commands to sneeze cause muscle contractions in the esophagus or sphincter. This includes the muscles controlling the eyelids and some even have a sneeze accompanied by a few tears.

 » Maybe some people sneeze while closing their eyes to prevent the expelled particles from entering the eyes suggests David Huston.  » By automatically closing the eyelids when sneezing, the most irritating particles can potentially be blocked and this prevents worsening eye conditions « .

You can always try to sneeze with your eyes open. An old popular belief evokes eyeballs likely to come out, but the  » pressure released during a sneeze is extremely unlikely to cause an eyeball to pop out, even if your eyes are open », Explains the allergist. The only « risk » is to break a few capillaries, these small blood vessels visible in the eyes.

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