Champagne is a celebratory drink – but popping a bottle of bubbly comes with some risk. A Champagne cork can fly up to 50 mph as it leaves the bottle – fast enough to shatter glass. If the cork hits an eye, it can cause bleeding, abrasions and even glaucoma.
Champagne cork accidents are real
"Champagne cork injuries really do happen, and they have real consequences," said Andrew Iwach, MD, ophthalmologist and glaucoma specialist.
In August, 2019, a Champagne cork accident blinded reality star Theo Campbell's right eye. When someone popped a bottle of Champagne near his face, the cork flew into his eye and “split his eyeball in half.” After two surgeries, doctors have not been able to give him back vision in the injured eye.
In early 2015, Novak Djokovic had a close call with a champagne cork after winning a tennis match against Roger Federer.
Dr. Iwach treated one patient who developed cataracts and advanced glaucoma after a champagne cork injury to the eye. The accident happened almost 20 years ago, and the patient was treated at the time of the accident. But with no follow-up exams, she didn’t realize that she was silently losing her vision over a 20-year period.
"Not only should you be seen at the time of an injury, but you may need long-term follow-up care to prevent late stage permanent vision loss," Dr. Iwach added.
If you do sustain an eye injury from a champagne cork, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist – a physician that specializes in medical and surgical eye care.
Pop a Champagne cork safely with these basic rules
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Chill the Champagne
Champagne bubbles are filled with gas that expands when warm. To preserve your eyesight and prevent the bottle from opening unexpectedly, always chill your Champagne in the fridge or on ice.
Don't shake or point the bottle towards anyone
Shaking a bottle of Champagne builds pressure and causes the cork to explode from the bottle at extremely high speed. Never point a bottle in someone's direction. It could cost them their sight. Instead, hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle—with the base slightly lower than the opening—and point it away from yourself and any bystanders.
Press down on the cork while firmly twisting the bottle
Tear off the foil then remove the wire hood. Place a towel over the top of the bottle and grasp the cork. Slowly and firmly twist the base of the bottle while holding the cork firmly. Do this until the pressure in the bottle begins to push the cork out naturally. Press down on the cork to prevent it from popping out too quickly.
Handle delicate glasses with care
Toast and clink carefully to avoid breaking the Champagne glasses.