Partygoers are being urged to be careful when popping bottles of fizz this festive season, as experts warn corks could launch at up to 80km/h.
An international team of ophthalmology experts say the warning may seem overly cautious, but eye injuries caused by cork popping can cause permanent damage.
The new research by University of Cambridge’s Department of Ophthalmology Ethan Waisberg and colleagues, published in the BMJ this week, revealed the pressure in a 750ml bottle of champagne or sparkling wine is about three times that of a standard car tyre.
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It has the potential to launch a cork up to 13m at speeds of up to 80km/h.
The cork can travel from the bottle into someone’s eye in less than 0.05, making the blinking reflex ineffective, researchers said.
“A cork hitting an eye can cause permanent blindness, retinal detachment, and lens dislocation, among other conditions,” they added.
Researchers pointed to the case of Biniam Girmay, a cyclist who in May 2022 opened a bottle of prosecco on the winners’ podium to celebrate his win at the Giro d’Italia.
The cork hit his eye causing an anterior chamber bleeding, and he had to withdraw from the next stage of the competition.
Don’t start the silly season with a trip to the emergency room. Instead, experts suggest mitigating risks during toasts by:
Chilling the bottle before opening to reduce the pressure, as a result, cork velocity decreases. Avoid shaking the bottle for this same reason.Face the bottle away from people at a 45 degree angle before opening.Remove the wire cage, which experts say could act as an additional projectile, carefully from top to bottom while pressing down on the cork with the palm of a hand.Place a towel over the top of the bottle and hold the cork firmly.Gently twist the bottle until the cork loosens and counteract the upward moving force of the cork by pressing down on it.
“Let us toast to an excellent new year, keep the bubbly in our glass, and the sparkle in our eyes,” researchers said.