A champagne toast is a great way to welcome 2013, but be mindful as you uncork the bottle: warm bottles of champagne and improper cork-removal techniques cause serious, potentially blinding eye injuries each year. The American Academy of Ophthalmology warns that champagne bottles contain pressure as high as 90 pounds per square inch – more than the pressure found inside a typical car tire. This pressure can launch a champagne cork at 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle, which is fast enough to shatter glass. Unfortunately, this is also fast enough to permanently damage vision.
Champagne cork mishaps can lead to a variety of serious eye injuries, including rupture of the eye wall, acute glaucoma, retinal detachment, ocular bleeding, dislocation of the lens, and damage to the eye’s bone structure. These injuries sometimes require urgent eye surgeries like stitching of the eye wall or repair of the orbital structure, and can even lead to blindness in the affected eye.
For a safe celebration, follow these EyeSmart tips on how to properly open a bottle of champagne:
- Chill sparkling wine and champagne to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or colder before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
- Don’t shake the bottle. Shaking increases the speed at which the cork leaves the bottle thereby increasing your chances of severe eye injury.
- Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and any bystanders and hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood on the bottle.
- Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.
- Twist the bottle while holding the cork at a 45 degree angle to break the seal. Counter the force of the cork using downward pressure as the cork breaks free from the bottle.
View a video demonstration of proper champagne cork removal, and see how the force of a champagne cork can shatter glass. Help get the word out to your friends about champagne cork safety by entering EyeSmart’s Facebook contest, for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.
If you do experience an eye injury from a champagne cork, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist – an eye physician and surgeon. For more information about keeping eyes healthy during holiday celebrations and all year round, visit www.geteyesmart.org.