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The Checkup
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Posted at 06:16 PM ET, 12/21/2012

Beware of flying champagne corks!

As holiday revelries shift into high gear, the American Academy of Ophthalmology wants to remind us to be careful around bottles of bubbly. To paraphrase a line from “A Christmas Story,” one of everyone’s favorite holiday movies, if you don’t handle the uncorking of a bottle of champagne correctly, you might well put your eye out.


German triple Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel celebrates with a bottle of champagne after winning a race in Thailand last week. (EPA)
According to that eye-health organization, which issued a press release about champagne-cork safety earlier this week, pressure that has built up inside a champagne bottle (particularly a warm one) can send the cork flying at 50 miles an hour. If it’s aimed at someone’s eye, serious damage can ensue. Errant champagne corks have caused such injuries as damage to the eye wall, retinal detachment, acute glaucoma, bleeding or bone damage and dislocation of the lens, the AAO notes. Any one of those requires quick attention from an ophthalmologist, and some may require surgery.

Here are tips and a video explaining how to keep your celebration from ending in a champagne-cork-related injury:

• 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.

A FAREWELL NOTE: Well, just when I’ve finally figured out how to spell “ophthalmologist,” The Checkup is closing down. I have been writing the blog since its inception in April 2008, and it’s been a great and edifying experience. I have been particularly proud that the people who comment on Checkup blog entries have been among the smartest and most articulate — and least nasty — of the commenters I’ve seen anywhere. I appreciate every one of my readers, and I’ll miss writing for you.

To your health!

By  |  06:16 PM ET, 12/21/2012

Tags:  eye injury, eye health

 
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