Can You Sneeze With Your Eyes Open?

The reason behind our sneezes is simple: As most people know, and Scientific American can attest, sneezing is the body's way of removing irritants like dirt, smoke, or allergens from our noses and sinus passages. That being said, sneezes can feel like one of the strangest bodily reactions a person can have, in large part because a lot of facial expressions around a sneeze are involuntary. 

Talking to Self in 2019, Dr. William Reisacher, an otolaryngologist — otherwise known as an "ear, nose, and throat" doctor – talked about the way that sneezing causes the muscles in our face to squeeze or contract. This is why it's tough to maintain a reasonable expression when sneezing. This facial contraction also impacts our eyes. "Some of those muscles surround your eyes, so when they contract, your eyes close," Reisacher says. But say you could train yourself out of closing your eyes when you sneeze – would that even be safe?

Experts say this myth about sneezing with your eyes open is farfetched

You may have heard the myth that your eyes will pop out of your head if you sneeze with your eyes open, a myth that NBC says may have originated from a news story in 1882 that claimed a woman's eye dislocated when she sneezed too hard while riding an open streetcar. 

Experts, though, believe this story was likely untrue, and insist you have nothing to fear from sneezing with your eyes open. In fact, Dr. David Huston, an allergist at Houston Methodist Hospital, is so certain that sneezing with your eyes open is not only possible but safe that he went on public record about it through the Texas A&M Health website in 2016. According to Dr. Huston, we likely close our eyes when we sneeze as an automatic reflex, perhaps to protect our eyes from the irritants leaving our bodies. Aside from the muscle contractions that close the eyes, most pressure from a sneeze is directed to the eyes' blood vessels, not their muscles. This means you're more likely to burst a blood vessel than pop out your eye while sneezing, whether or not your eyes are open.