Champagne cork damage: Protect your eyes this holiday season

Original Post | December 23, 2019 | Healio, Ocular Surgery News Authored by Andrew G. Iwach, MD

Before you go to pop that bottle of champagne, prosecco or California-based sparkling wine this holiday season, ophthalmologists warn that pop can have long-term negative consequences for your eyes if you are not careful.

A cork can come out of a bottle at 50 miles per hour, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and that is more than enough velocity to cause serious damage.

Andrew G. Iwach, MD, clinical spokesperson for the AAO, has treated a patient with a lifetime injury due to a cork incident.

“You think, ‘What could a little cork do?’ Well, it can do a lot,” he said. “The main element here is the speed. The amount of energy this little cork has as it flies out of the bottle can cause devastating damage to an eye. The eye is a very fragile, delicate organ, and with a champagne bottle, the pressure that can be built up is more than what is in the tire of a double-decker bus.”

If a cork leaves a bottle at that rate of speed and hits the eye, it can cause corneal surface injuries such as abrasions or tears, but it can also cause long-term damage.

“The shockwave that the eye sustains can cause a very damaging vibration of the structures within the eye, which can lead to potential bleeding within the eye and disruption of normal tissue,” Iwach said.

He treated a patient who had traumatic glaucoma that developed years after the initial injury.

“One bad luck poor decision can have consequences which ultimately can lead to vision loss,” he said.

To prevent injury, there are a few easy steps celebrants can take when that bottle comes out of the ice.

  • Do not shake the bottle.
  • Be careful to remove the foil and metal cage from the cork.
  • Use a towel over the cork and point the bottle at a 45° angle away from any people while gently pulling the it out.
  • Once the champagne is poured, be cautious in clinking glasses to avoid any injuries from broken glass.

Safety is a priority to make sure injuries do not ruin the fun.

“We want people to enjoy the holidays getting together with friends and family, but do it safely,” Iwach said. – by Rebecca L. Forand

Disclosure: Iwach reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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