How to Open Champagne Safely this Holiday Season

Pouring Champagne

Champagne signals a time of celebration – but opening bubbly can come with some risks. A Champagne cork can fly up to 50 mph as it leaves the bottle — fast enough to shatter glass. If the cork hits an eye, it can cause bleeding, abrasions and even glaucoma.

"Champagne cork injuries really do happen, and they have real consequences," said Andrew Iwach, MD, ophthalmologist and glaucoma specialist.

Dr. Iwach treated one patient who developed cataracts and advanced glaucoma after a champagne cork injury to the eye. The accident happened almost 20 years ago, and the patient was treated at the time of the accident. But with no follow-up exams, she didn’t realize that she was silently losing her vision over a 20-year period.

"Not only should you be seen at the time of an injury, but you may need long-term follow-up care to prevent late stage permanent vision loss," Dr. Iwach added.

If you do sustain an eye injury from a champagne cork, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist – a physician that specializes in medical and surgical eye care.

Avoid an eye injury by following these tips:

Keep the Champagne cold.

Champagne bubbles are filled with gas that expands when warm. To preserve your eyesight and prevent the bottle from opening unexpectedly, always chill your Champagne in the fridge or on ice to about 45 degrees.

Don't shake, rattle or point the bottle towards anyone.

Agitating Champagne increases pressure. Never point a bottle in someone's direction. It could cost them their sight.

Control the cork.

Tear off the foil then remove the wire hood. Place a towel over the top of the bottle and grasp the cork. Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and any bystanders. Slowly and firmly twist the bottle not the cork. Do this until the pressure in the bottle begins to push the cork out naturally.

Celebrate safely.

Toast and clink carefully to avoid breaking the Champagne glasses.

To learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.


This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology's EyeSmart Campaign (http://www.aao.org/eyesmart).

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