Popping a bottle of champagne is usually associated with celebrating holidays, special events, or achievements. Popping the cork and making champagne fly into the air should be a fun occasion, instead of one resulting in an injury. Optometrists say that the most common New Years Eve injury is taking a champagne cork to the eye, the second being firework mishaps. Though champagne is extremely popular over the New Years Eve holiday, the threat of getting a champagne cork injury runs rampant all year with brunch mimosas, engagements and work parties.
Why Is There A Risk In The First Place?
Champagne bottles have been known to store up to 90 pounds of pressure in one bottle, which is more than the average car tire. This pressure buildup can cause the cork to launch from the bottle at up to 50 miles per hour. Such an acceleration is enough to shatter glass, and more importantly can severely damage a human eyeball or lead to blindness.
What Can Happen
- Eye Wall Rupture
- Lens Dislocation
- Retina Detachment
- Damage to bones surrounding the eyes
- Psychological Trauma
There are a few things that one can do to avoid eye injury when opening a champagne bottle.
What Can Be Done To Avoid Injury
Most importantly, champagne bottles need to be chilled to 45 degrees fahrenheit or colder. Warmer champagne bottles are less predictable and can pop unexpectedly before the opener can properly prepare for the cork launch. Also, the opener needs to avoid shaking or disturbing the bottle too much. In movies bottles are often shaken to make the champagne launch be more dramatic and have a larger champagne spray. This causes for the bottle to build up even more pressure which increases the risk for injury, whilst wasting perfectly good drinking champagne. Doing so is not encouraged.
Another good tip for avoiding cork injuries is to never aim the top of the bottle towards your face or body. Doing so is just asking for a cork to the face. If the bottle does not open properly, examine it at a distance. The best way to open the bottle is to point the cork at a 45 degree angle from yourself, while avoiding aiming it at any person (even if you dislike them).
Placing a towel over the cork, or obstructing it in any way, can help provide a barrier between the cork and an injury.
Knowing which type of cork the bottle has can also help when avoiding injury. Some bottles have twist off tops, while others need to be popped. Those who are not paying attention are the first to be hit with accidental flying corks. Also, it is said that plastic corks are more dangerous than traditional corks because they cause more pressure buildup within the bottle, and cause a more explosive champagne pop.
Champagne is supposed to be the drink of celebration and fun, and it is no fun ceasing the party to take a friend to the hospital or call an ambulance. Try to drink and open bubbly responsibly, out of respect for your own eyes and those of the surrounding party guests.
Lindsay is a writer for the Kyle Law Firm, a personal injury firm in Texas. Lindsay has never opened a champagne bottle before and always passes them to her friends because they scare her.