Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Max + Sun = Sneeze! How about you?

A really unusual genetic quirk that Max has inherited from Gene is his sneezing on initial exposure to sunlight! If there's a gap of maybe around 30 minutes (honestly i haven't timed it), another exposure will trigger another sneeze. Gene says he can sneeze from 1-20 times, Max (fortunately) from what i've noticed, is about once or twice. 

How weird is that? 

Wikipedia has some info about it, it's called PHOTIC SNEEZE REFLEX,  
"Photic sneeze reflex, also sometimes referred to using the backronym Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst Syndrome (ACHOO Syndrome), and the "Peroutka Sneeze Gene", is a hereditary trait which causes sneezing, possibly many times consecutively (due to naso-ocular reflex) when suddenly exposed to bright light. The condition affects 18-35% of the human population."  

Some theories and points to ponder:

-"A sneeze is usually triggered by an irritation in the nose, which is sensed by the trigeminal nerve, a cranial nerve responsible for facial sensation and motor control. This nerve is in close proximity to the optic nerve, which senses, for example, a sudden flood of light entering the retina. As the optic nerve fires to signal the brain to constrict the pupils, the theory goes, some of the electrical signal is sensed by the trigeminal nerve and mistaken by the brain as an irritant in the nose. Hence, a sneeze." Scientific American

- if one parent has the trait, there is a 50/50 chance that [his] kid will inherit this gene

- main group affected are Caucasian Women

- Wearing sunglasses helps

- can be hazardous to your health when when working with heavy machinery (i.e. welding), getting eye surgery, and God forbid a pilot not wearing sunglasses and it's at a crucial time!



  1. Too funny. My fist serious boyfriend had this actually. I found it quite endearing at the time.

  2. Another photic sneezing family reporting in (belatedly)! My grandfather had it, my father and brother have it and I have it too, so it's almost a clean sweep on the paternal side of the family.

    Your comment on the half hour latency period is interesting - Max and Gene must have quite a twitchy optic nerve. My father and brother claim that it's a once a day occurrence for them, but I think I generally have about an hour or even two before the reflex kicks in again. Typically, it will happen to me when I first go out in the morning and then when I go outside after lunch. It's something to watch - can be quite a hazard when you are driving!

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