Photic sneeze reflex: the reason why you sneeze when you look at the sun

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If you tend to sneeze after staring into the sun, it’s not a coincidence; there is a scientific explanation for this phenomenon.

Summer officially starts in a few days, but let’s face it, it’s been making its way around for a few days now. Barbecue season is already underway, warm winter blankets have given way to light sheets, and sunscreen is already in our bags, but the sun is here. For some people, its presence is accompanied by sneezing fits.

These sneezing fits are not due to allergies.
It’s a bad year for pollen allergy sufferers. Grasses and pollen are highly concentrated this season, and for allergy sufferers, this manifests itself in a variety of stubborn reactions: Asthma, runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing attacks.

But that’s not what we want to talk about in this article. Have you ever stared at the sun before having a sneezing fit that you couldn’t hold back? This phenomenon affects a not insignificant portion of the population and even has a name.

Photic sneeze reflex
According to the website Opticien par conviction, this phenomenon affects 18 to 35% of the world’s population! This peculiarity is called the “photic sneezing reflex.” The French website specifies:

“It is not a disease but communication between two nerves that do not have to be similar to a short circuit. First, the optic nerve receives a signal from the eye that receives the light, transcribing it into a nerve impulse. Now, anatomically, the optic nerve is closely related to the Dilling nerve, which runs through the entire face and triggers sneezing.”

This reflex does not necessarily have anything to do with the sun but rather with light. So it can also be triggered by contact with a bright light source. And finally, it is said to be genetic: So if you’ve noticed this little peculiarity in yourself, it’s likely that your children will also sneeze after staring at the sun.

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