ACHOO – Sun Sneeze

ACHOO!

Everyone sneezes but some of us sneeze for vastly different reasons than others. It’s maybe due to a tingle in your nose, certain smells, allergies or… sunlight?

Yes, ACHOO, or autosomal dominant compelling helio-ophthalmic outburst, is really a thing.  ACHOO is caused by sudden exposure to bright lights, and is also known as sun sneeze or photic sneeze reflex.

What is ACHOO syndrome?

People with ACHOO sneeze when their eyes are exposed to sunlight or other bright lights. Surprisingly this syndrome affects between 15–30% of people around the world but, thankfully, poses no serious threat to their health.

Usually triggered by abrupt bright light, (such as coming into sunlight from a darkened space, a camera’s flash, or even the light used by eye doctors) these sneezes come on quickly and are uncontrollable. Luckily, most people don’t sneeze at every exposure to bright light, and even then only sneeze a few times.

Interestingly photic sneeze isn’t caused by the light itself, but overly stimulated nerves in the facial cavity. It’s easy to understand that sneezing due to bright lights isn’t easily explained by doctors and scientists – there are several theories but none have a solid functional evolutionary basis. Also, it seems to be passed on from generation to generation – so if either of your parents have it, you very likely have it too.

Health risks 

ACHOO has few health concerns. However instances where sudden light exposure happens can trigger an episode and lead to a dangerous situation. For instance, when driving from a tunnel into bright sunlight sudden sneezing could prove hazardous. Sufferers need to be cautious and know their environments to avoid situations that could trigger a sneezing episode.

Prevention

No cures exist for ACHOO so the best way to prevent a sneezing fit is to minimize the chance of sudden bright light exposure. Doctors often recommend wearing sunglasses to best shield the eyes.

If you believe you may have ACHOO, call us at 920 499-3102 to schedule an appointment with one of our optometrists.

Tagged with: , , ,

Posted in: Blog, New Announcements

Latest News

09.28.22

Dry eyes after cataract surgery

Following cataract surgery patients can develop dry eye symptoms. Watch Tower Clock Eye Center ophthalmologist Dr. Tyson Schwiesow, MD, explain the causes and how it's easily treated.

09.19.22

Routine vs. medical care

A common question we get at Tower Clock Eye Center is the difference between routine and medical care, especially how they are billed through insurance. Routine eye care Some medical insurance companies cover routine, or preventative, eye care. Patients should check with their insurance provider to see if this benefit is part of her or... read more

Locate Our Office

Green Bay Office

1087 West Mason St
Green Bay, WI 54303

» Get Directions

Shawano Office

229 East Green Bay Street
Shawano, WI 54166

» Get Directions

Oconto Office & Medical Center

820 Arbutus Ave
Oconto, WI 54153

» Get Directions

Tower Clock Surgery Center

1077 West Mason Street
Green Bay, WI 54303

» Get Directions

Appleton Office

3142 N. Richmond St.
Appleton, WI 54911

» Get Directions

Manitowoc Office

2300 Western Ave
Manitowoc, WI 54220

» Get Directions