Monday, June 16, 2008

Photic Sneeze Reflex

So Mrs. McFarland, my Advanced Biology teacher in high school was wrong - there actually IS a reason I sneeze whenever I walk from indoors to outdoors and into direct sunlight. Sneezing as the result of being exposed to a bright light—known as the photic sneeze reflex—is a genetic quirk that is still unexplained by science, even though it has intrigued some of history's greatest minds, and affects anywhere from 1/10 to 1/3 of the population.

It happens to me, especially when the sun is very strong and it is warmer than 80F degrees. Mrs. McFarland said there was no such thing. And perhaps back then, nothing had been proven. And even now, it's all really speculation. All I know is, I'm pretty consistent about doing it.


  1. What if it's a natural response that had a role in evolution: like, if our ancestors were living in caves or were in the underbrush, where it is wet and moldy, when they finally got out in the sunlight, they sneezed to get all those mold spores or whatever out of their lungs. Just like if you smell or hear someone getting sick, your relfex is to gag and get sick as well, because evolution-wise, if one animal got sick in a group eating bad food, the others would empty their stomachs too as a safety measure.

    These residual relfexes are interesting...all part of how we evolved and are here today.

  2. Wow!!! Hillbuzz totally sold me on that theory...

  3. LOL I'm not so crazy after all. I always thought for me it was due to going from the cold dry A/C processed air of a building to the warm wild humid air outside we have here in New England most summers. Wonder if wearing shades prevents it to a degree?