MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Why do people close their eyes when they sneeze?

Date: Fri Oct 3 18:55:13 2003
Posted By: Michael Watson, Biomedical Engineer currently Teaching Math/Biology
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 1063706476.Gb


My research into this topic has stated that there is no know reason for 
the eyes to close.  It is not to protect them at all.  Your assumption of 
stimulation of close nerve bundle seems to be the cause.

However, not everyone closes their eyes when they sneeze (probably a 
small population).  It has been guessed that closing of the eyes 
developed to prevent sneeze spray from getting into the eyes.  However, 
since they are open most of the time and have their own defenses against 
bacteria, the reason for closing the eyes remains unknown.

Sneezing is the response to remove possible parasites and bacteria from 
the nasal pasages.  Closing the eyes could be 
Other mammmals do sneeze.  Cats and dogs sneeze and I have seen cats have 
the same closing eyes reflex.

I hope this answers your question.


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