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‘Tis the season to avoid eye injuries


‘Tis the season to avoid eye injuries

The festive season and champagne go together like hot weather and blowflies. And while champagne is far more appealing than an annoying insect, a bit of caution goes a long way.

Ophthalmologists routinely see a spike in the number of eye injuries from popping corks at this time of the year. The consequences of being hit in the eye with a champagne cork should be taken very seriously. A fizz-propelled cork can travel up to 80km per hour – enough force to shatter glass. So, imagine what the aftermath would be if it heads in the direction of an eye.

No one wants to be the recipient of a cork to the eye. Damage can range from a tear or blood clot in the cornea (the front surface of the eye), and extend to damage to the retina (the back surface of the eye), all of which can lead to permanent loss of vision. There have even been cases where the eye itself has ruptured.

People who have suffered this sort of trauma also risk suffering a detached retina, staining of the cornea and acute glaucoma. A cork in the eye is a medical priority and a visit to the emergency ward is most likely in order. They can assess if an ophthalmic surgeon needs to be called in.

How to avoid a trip to the emergency ward

Here are a few simple tips to follow when removing a cork:

  • Don’t unscrew the safety wire of the cork until the bottle is pointing well away from people – and put the palm of your hand over the cork while you are removing the wire, just in case.
  • Don’t pop the cork with your thumbs – gently twist it with one hand.
  • Put a towel over the cork as you are removing it.
  • You may think that opening a bottle near a wall is safe, but the cork can ricochet off a surface and propel itself into an eye.
  • Make sure the champagne is chilled – a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.

Other festive considerations

Little things can make a difference – like making sure that glass ornaments are placed high in the tree and decorations with sharp edges are out of reach. And kids love a glitter ball, but if they play with one then rub their eyes, there’s a risk of scratching the surface of the eye.

Celebrate well (and safely)

The stress, the heat, the crowds and the pressures of this time of the year sometimes make us forget to stop and think. So please, when you or someone else in the room is opening a bottle of bubbly, a little common sense will go a long way (and avoid a long trip to hospital).

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The information on this page is general in nature. All medical and surgical procedures have potential benefits and risks. Consult your ophthalmologist for specific medical advice.

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