Allergic to the Sun?

I am one of 18-35% of the human population with a photic sneeze reflex! If I step out of a dark building into full bright sunlight, it makes me sneeze. It always has. When I was a kid, I used to think I was just weird somehow, but seemingly, it isn’t so rare.

First documented in work attributed to Aristotle, solar sneezes are apparently a genetic thing. The nerve responsible for sneezes (believed to be the trigeminal nerve) has a close association in some people with the optic nerve. As a result, if you overstimulate your optic nerve (by suddenly stepping into bright sunlight, for instance) it also stimulates your trigeminal, making you sneeze. How curious.

I always seem to end up reading random things while I’m waiting for computers to come back online…

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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4 Responses to Allergic to the Sun?

  1. invaderxan says:

    Re: One reason . . .
    Haha! Brilliant! :)

  2. Anonymous says:

    One reason . . .
    Someone wrote into New Scientist once to ask why this happened. Someone else answered: “Photons get up your nose!”

  3. invaderxan says:

    Oh definitely. There’s nothing ore infuriating than losing a sneeze!

  4. I experience something like that too, but mine is very weak. I don’t usually sneeze when I step out into the sunlight, but if I’m losing a sneeze, it helps to stare at a bright light ;)

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