You quietly enjoy the sun, sitting on the terrace of a café with friends. However, despite this moment of relaxation, you can't help but sneeze more or less loudly and repetitively! Strange, because no pollen, no cold! Don't worry, it's not necessarily a virus or other disease, but simply a reflex reaction , called the sneeze reflex or " heliotrophic sneeze ". Rest assured ; almost one person in four is in this case and already in his time Aristotle had noticed this phenomenon!


This photo-sneeze reflex occurs during a sudden change in light . You were in a basement or a movie theater and come out into the open in bright, intense light. Then, the light "hits" the retina and in response of defense, the optic nerve orders the closing of the pupils via an electrical signal. And the optic nerve is very close to the trigeminal nerve which controls sneezing in the presence of irritating particles for the nose.

Like electric wires touching

One hypothesis suggests that part of the signal circulating in the optic nerve would be picked up by the trigeminal nerve, as if two electrical wires were touching, causing a sneeze .

However, there are few studies on the subject, because it does not represent any danger to our health. Except maybe if he repeatedly hits you at the exit of the tunnels on the highway!

What are the solutions to the sneeze reflex?

This natural phenomenon would be hereditary and there would therefore be no real "solution" to remedy it... Adopting good sunglasses could nevertheless attenuate the "striking" shock of the sun on the retina and limit the sneezing reflex. They would indeed let your eyes adapt gradually to the dazzling light.

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July 27, 2023