Why Do Your Eyes Close When You Sneeze?

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Your eyes close when sneezing as a reflex mechanism to protect the cornea against the fluids that are being released so violently through the nose. Learn how the body uses sneezing to clear irritants from the inside of the nose with information from an ophthalmologist in this free video on sneezing and eye care.

Part of the Video Series: Eye Care & Vision Problems
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Video Transcript

My name is Dr. Alan Watson. I'm an ophthalmologist in St. Joseph, Missouri and we're here today to talk about eye problems. Generally, a sneeze is an attempt of the body to clear some irritant from the nasopharynx, that area inside your nose that you breathe through. And when you sneeze, the gases are released so violently, that they've clocked those those particles, leaving your nose at upwards of 100 miles an hour, and your eyes close as a reflex mechanism to protect them. Because when you receive 80% of our sensory input through our eyes and when you have 100 mile an hour particles flying through the air, I think developed as a protective mechanism to protect your cornea against any problems as those fluids lash out into the world around you. And so, generally, it's very difficult to sneeze without closing your eyes. This has been Dr. Alan Watson, ophthalmologist, in St. Joseph, Missouri, discussing different eye problems and the treatment of different eye problems with you.

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