It's a playground dare as old as time. Lick that frozen flagpole, jump off the top of the slide, and ... try to sneeze with your eyes wide open. A little fear of danger is at the heart of most childhood challenges. Your tongue could stick to the frozen metal of a flagpole, you could break a bone jumping off the slide, and, of course, sneezing with your eyes open might make your eyeballs pop out. But is that really true? While the first two dares are definitely ill-advised, there's little truth to the idea that sneezing with your eyes open is dangerous.
Nothing to Sneeze At
Though the New York Times reported that a woman "burst an eyeball" during a sneezing fit in 1882, claims of lost eyeballs from sneezing are almost always false. Not that sneezes aren't violent: A single sneeze can release a gust of air, pressure, and snot at up to 10 miles per hour. But that just isn't enough to cause lasting damage.
"Pressure released from a sneeze is extremely unlikely to cause an eyeball to pop out, even if your eyes are open," Dr. David Huston, the Associate Dean at Texas A&M College of Medicine Houston, told LiveScience.
It's difficult but possible to hold your eyes open during a sneeze. In fact, some people just keep their eyes open naturally. Either way, your eyeballs will likely stay right there in your head. That's because it's not your eyelids that keep your eyes in place — it's the half-dozen ocular muscles that surround each one. And they're not going to just let your eyes jettison out of your head with a simple sneeze.
The worst that will happen? If you experience a particularly fierce bout of sneezing, you might burst a small blood vessel, leaving your eyes looking red and bloodshot. Excessive straining from heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, and even childbirth can lead to burst blood vessels in the eyes. Those damaged vessels can sometimes leak blood into the surrounding space and produce a harmless but scary-looking subconjunctival hemorrhage. But that has nothing to do with whether your eyes are open or closed. If weight lifters and new mothers still have their eyes intact, sneezing likely won't harm yours either.
Where Do Sneezes Come From?
At its most basic, sneezing expels undesirable particles from the nose when it gets irritated or inflamed. If you could slow down the moments before a sneeze, you'd find a lot of things happening inside your body. You've probably felt a tightening of the chest and closing of the throat that tells you a sneeze is coming. That's what prepares your lungs to push air through your nose to expel the irritating invader — along with some other detritus that comes along for the ride. A single 'aah-choo' can send up to 5,000 droplets into your surroundings.
As your chest tightens and throat constricts, that's when your eyes unconsciously squeeze shut in anticipation. But closing your eyes is a reflex that's a side-effect of sneezing, not a necessary component of each sneeze.
It's possible that your eyes close in order to protect themselves from whatever irritants or pollutants the nose is expelling. Even though sneezing pushes those irritants away, some could still end up in your eyes — which sends them right back into your body.
But what's more likely is that they close for no reason at all. It's just a reflex, like when a doctor taps your knee and your leg kicks out. And if you try really hard, you might even be able to overpower the reflex and sneeze with your eyes open. You'll still have two eyeballs when it's over.Source:Web