It's a good thing our eyes are more robust than this myth suggests, because there'd be a lot more grisly medical visits.
Your eyes are held firmly in place by the set of muscles whose job is to steer your eyes as you look around.
They are the medial and lateral rectus, the superior and inferior oblique, and the superior and inferior rectus muscles.
If a sneeze was powerful enough to overcome those, it would take more than flimsy eyelids to hold them in place.
It is difficult to sneeze without closing your eyes, but there's no particular reason why it is necessary. In fact, not everyone does close their eyes.
More likely, it's a simple reflex related to the way you tense other muscles at the same time. A sneeze-face is a sure giveaway of a sneeze in progress.
It's not just the face. Other muscles also tense during a strong sneeze. The upper body tightens and the head rocks forward.
A hefty sneeze can be an effective way to clear your nose during hayfever season.
The violent blast of air can travel 160km/h, and carry between 2000 and 5000 droplets of mucus out of the mouth and throat.
Measurements show this can travel 150 centimetres.
Good manners, of course, dictate using a tissue to avoid distributing airborne diseases to your companions. And now, of course, during the COVID-19 pandemic we wear face masks.
Breathing is an interesting function because most of the time you don't think about it.
It's managed by the autonomic nervous system, but you can hold your breath if you want to.
Sneezing is an involuntary response and it's nearly impossible to hold one back. However it does involve muscles that you can control, which makes it possible to 'swallow' a sneeze by holding your mouth shut.
Imagine what it would be like for people suffering Ondine's Curse.
This is a very rare condition where autonomic breathing is lost, and people who have it must consciously breathe. At night, they must use a ventilator to avoid suffocating.
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