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Uncork With Care, Eye Experts Warn

SATURDAY, Dec. 31 (HealthDay News) -- If champagne is a part of your New Year's Eve celebration, use care when you pop the cork or it could turn into a dangerous projectile that can cause serious eye damage, the American Academy of Ophthalmology warns.

When it leaves the bottle, a cork can reach speeds of up to 50 miles an hour and have enough force to shatter glass. This type of impact on an eye can cause acute glaucoma, detached retina and staining of the cornea, all of which can result in decreased vision.

"Champagne cork eye injuries can have a devastating impact on your vision," Dr. Kuldev Singh, an ophthalmologist and clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, said in an academy news release.

"Many champagne cork-related eye injuries necessitate urgent surgery to prevent significant, permanent vision loss -- a terrible way to spend the holidays. If you follow a few simple steps to properly open a bottle of champagne, you can keep your holidays enjoyable and safe," Singh said.

Here are the AAO's tips for safely opening a bottle of champagne, also called sparkling wine:

  • Never use a corkscrew.
  • Chill the bottle to at least 45 degrees F before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
  • Don't shake the bottle. Doing so increases the speed at which the cork leaves the bottle.
  • When opening the bottle, hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood. Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and other people. Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.
  • Slowly and firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal and continue holding the cork while twisting the bottle. Do this until the cork is almost out of the bottle's neck. Use slight downward pressure to counter the force of the cork just as it breaks free from the bottle.

More information

Prevent Blindness America has more about eye safety at home.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Ophthalmology, news release, Dec. 14, 2011

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