It’s a commonly held belief that a person cannot sneeze with their eyes open, or the eyes will pop out. Check whether the belief is a myth or reality.
Mudit Chhikara
Myth or Reality: You Can’t Sneeze With Your Eyes Open

Myth or Reality: Sneezing is a process of expelling air from the lungs through the nose. Everyone sneezes, even animals. Some people have loud and explosive sneezes, while others sound like they just exhaled a bit forcefully.

But one thing is common during sneezing: the eyes remain shut. Even if you try opening your eyes while sneezing, they involuntarily close up again. There are various superstitions and urban legends surrounding sneezes. The most common one being that sneezing with your eyes open will pop them out of your head. This is a widespread presumption that everyone must have heard at least once in their lives.

No doubt, sneezing is a powerful phenomenon that can often shake up the entire body. But is it possible to sneeze with your eyes open, and will it pop your eyes out? Today, we put this belief to the test. Check whether the idea that you can’t sneeze with your eyes open is a myth or reality.

What is a sneeze and how powerful is it?

The sneeze, or scientifically, sternutation, is a defence mechanism of the human body that’s mainly triggered by a foreign particle entering the nasal cavity. The process is an autonomous reflex that expels air from the lungs along with mucous to clear out the nasal cavity and rid the body of contaminants. Allergies, sudden temperature and pressure changes, cold weather, and pollution are also common triggers of a sneeze.

A sneeze includes a powerful burst of air. Earlier estimates put the sneeze at a speed of 200 mph. That’s as fast as some bullet trains. However, in recent times, the force of sneezing has been calculated to be far less than previously anticipated. Some studies put it at no more than 10 mph, while others state that a sneeze can emit contagious particles at over 100 mph. Whatever the case, the fact remains that sneezing is an extremely powerful reflex that puts tremendous pressure on your nasal cavity and face.

Why do your eyes close up while sneezing?

No one knows why the eyes automatically snap shut during a sneeze. Scientists believe that it happens to protect the eyes from the contaminants released. It could also be possible due to the involuntary muscle contractions of the face, as sneezing incorporates many muscles, including the ones surrounding the eyes. So when they contract, the eyelids shut down as well. But there is currently no correlation between the eye muscles and the ones used during sneezing.

Is it possible to sneeze with your eyes open?

Finally, coming to the crux of the matter, Yes! it is possible to sneeze with your eyes open. But it takes some extra effort, which doctors advise against. The eyelid muscles are one of the strongest and most sensitive muscles in the body, considering you blink around 15-20 times a minute. Using them to keep the eyelids open during a strong involuntary reflex action like sneezing is a challenging task. But it’s possible. Many YouTubers and researchers have accomplished the task by taping their eyelids to their foreheads or manually holding them open while sneezing.

What happens if you sneeze with your eyes open?

There are numerous demonstrations of sneezing while keeping your eyes open. The popular Discovery Channel show Mythbusters even dedicated an episode to it. In the end, it turns out that it really is possible to sneeze with your eyes open and that nothing terrible will happen to your eyes. The eye socket muscles are strong enough to keep them safely in place. And so far, there are no cases of eyes popping out of heads due to sneezing.

However, there is a condition called globe luxation in which the eye dislocates from its position and bulges out. The leading cause of globe luxation is trauma and manipulation of the eyelids, but in extremely rare cases, it can also be caused by crying, blowing your nose, bending over, and sneezing. But these cases were so rare that chances of them taking place are next to impossible.


Hence, the notion that you can’t sneeze with your eyes open is a myth. And neither will your eyes pop out of your head if you attempt to do so. However, there is a once-in-a-blue-moon chance that your eyes slightly bulge out, but that can happen without sneezing as well. Plus, it’s always a good idea to keep the contaminants your body is expelling, OUT! of the body. So, keep your eyes closed while sneezing.

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Is it possible to sneeze with your eyes open?

Yes. It is anatomically possible to sneeze with your eyes open. It takes some extra effort and you might have to tape your eyes open, but you can sneeze with your eyes wide opened.

What happens if you sneeze with your eyes open?

Nothing bad will happen if you sneeze with your eyes open. People believe that the eyes will pop out if you keep them open while sneezing. But that is just a myth that has been debunked many times.

Can eyes pop out if you sneeze with your eyes open?

There has been no recorded incident of a person’s eyes popping out of the head due to sneezing. The eye socket muscles firmly hold the eyes in place during sneezing and there is an extremely rare chance that the eyes bulge out slightly due to globe luxation. However, it is a freak condition that can also arise by bending over, blowing your nose or crying.

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