Champagne Corks Can Be Dangerous

A successful champagne uncorking typically involves a pop and fizz. But according to a vision expert, a proper uncorking could also keep your eyes safe. (Image credit: Stockxpert.)

If you pop the cork on some bubbly this New Year's Eve, keep an eye out. There's three times the pressure of a car tire bottled up in champagne.

"Eye injuries from flying champagne corks, especially around the holidays, are fairly common," said Dr. Mark Melson, assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute. "Opening the bottles properly might save some folks a trip to the emergency room or a visit to their eye doctor."

Corks from champagne or sparkling wine can erupt at speeds up to 60 mph.

"That is a lot of force to the eye," Melson said. "The damage can range from corneal abrasions to retinal detachment."

You might think you're smart enough and quick enough to stay clear, but Melson points out there's often some "delayed response because of impaired judgment" at times like these. So he and the  American Academy of Ophthalmology offer these tips:

  • Make sure the bottle of bubbly is chilled. If left warm the pressure is more likely to build.
  • Don’t shake the bottle. This only increases the speed of the cork upon opening.
  • Place a towel over the top of the bottle to provide an additional shield.
  • Keep the bottle tilted at a 45-degree angle, pointing away from people.
  • Hold the cork while twisting the bottle to break the seal. Keep your hand over the cork.
  • Never use a corkscrew to open a bottle of champagne. It will only serve as a larger, more dangerous projectile.

If you get smacked anyway, don't touch the eye. Seek medical attention immediately, Melson said.

Live Science Staff
For the science geek in everyone, Live Science offers a fascinating window into the natural and technological world, delivering comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything from dinosaur discoveries, archaeological finds and amazing animals to health, innovation and wearable technology. We aim to empower and inspire our readers with the tools needed to understand the world and appreciate its everyday awe.