Photosneezia - Light Induced Sneezing
Saturday 4th, September 2021
For many years we've heard stories and in some cases first had accounts where people have a sneeze induced by looking at a light source. There has been much debate over the years as to whether this is an actual thing or just coincidence.

'Photosneezia' is a phenomenon which is said that when some people look at a bright light it can induce a sneeze from the person. How or why a bright light can cause a sneeze to occur is unknown and it is actually quite common, in some countries it's thought that as much as 1 in 4 people could be affected by photosneezia.

An experimental psychologist from the University of Oxford, Manuel Spitschan siad, "It is typically preceded by a tickling sensation, and the sneeze is not immediate. It will take a few seconds", which Manuel followed up with, "It also appears that spending some time in darkness prior to the light exposure is necessary.".

With what Manuel has said about being in the dark prior to looking at light to induce the sneeze we would take it with a pinch of salt as we have seen first hand cases where there is no darkness prior to a light induced sneeze.

There was a hypothesis by Aristotle in his book, 'Book of Problems' where it was questioned, 'Why does the heat of the sun provoke sneezing?' Aristotle's belief was proven incorrect at a later date by Francis Bacon where Francis would face the sun with his eyes closed and no sneezing was induced. Aristotle believed the cause was that the sweat in the nose caused by the heat of the sun would cause an irritation and induce a sneeze.

There are a few different theories to date as to the cause, one of these being that the optic nerve fibres could accidentally activate nearby nerve fibres as they converge in the brain.

Another theory is that the trigeminal nerve can in some situations become cross activated by signals from the optic nerve, which connects from the eye to the brain, and its thought that the bright light hitting the nerve at the back of the eye can induce a sneeze.

It's currently believed that a sneeze is caused by the layer of cells in the nose becoming irritated, this then triggers the trigeminal nerve which carries sensory information from the face to the brain and induces the sneeze.

Studies continue into the cause of photosneezia.
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