Eye doctors warn to uncork with caution

Eye doctors say it's important to learn how to open a bottle of bubbly correctly to avoid flying corks.
Eye doctors say it's important to learn how to open a bottle of bubbly correctly to avoid flying corks.

(RNN) - A champagne toast is a great way to welcome 2013, but doctors are warning to be mindful as you pop the bottle.

Let's face it, normal concerns regarding New Year's Eve include crowds, drinking and driving, bad weather and falling asleep before the ball drops.

With all of those distractions it's no wonder that people forget about eye injuries until champagne cork goes flying and now you can look forward to starting the New Year wearing an eye patch.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology warns that warm bottles of champagne and improper cork removal can cause serious, potentially blinding eye injuries.

With approximately 50 million bubbles per bottle, champagne contains pressure as high as 90 pounds per square inch – equivalent to the tire pressure of a double-decker bus.

That pressure can unleash a cork flying towards the eye at 50 miles per hour - not enough time to get out of the way, but more than enough to cause serious damage.

"When a Champagne cork flies, you really have no time to react and protect your delicate eyes," Dr. Monica Monica, an ophthalmologist and spokeswoman for the AAO, said in a news release. "Uncontrolled Champagne corks can lead to painful eye injuries and devastating vision loss. We don't want anyone to end up ringing in the year on an ophthalmologist's surgery table."

Injuries include eye wall rupture, glaucoma, retinal detachment, eye bleeding, dislocation of the lens and damage to the eye's bone structure, which often require emergency surgery.

Not to scare you, but by the law of averages, you are more likely to be killed by a flying champagne cork than by a poisonous spider.

And, is it mere coincidence that the Benedictine monk Dom Perignon, "inventor" of champagne, was blind?

In order for everyone to enjoy a fun, safe and injury-free holiday, the AAO provided the following tips on how to properly open a bottle of champagne:

  • Chill Champagne and sparkling wine to 45 degrees or colder before opening. A warm bottle's cork is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
  • Do not shake the bottle. Shaking increases the cork's exit speed and increases the risk that someone will suffer a severe eye injury.
  • Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and people nearby, and hold down the cork with your palm while removing the wire hood on the bottle.
  • Put a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.
  • To break the seal, twist the bottle while holding the cork at a 45-degree angle. As the cork breaks free from the bottle, counter its force by using downward pressure.

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