We all savour the sound of a champagne cork popping. But those of us too squeamish to open the bottle for fear of a fast-flying cork might be onto something.
For the American Academy of Ophthalmology has warned that adults who incorrectly open bubbly bottles are in real danger of poking their eyes out.
The pressure inside a champagne bottle can launch a cork at 50 miles per hour – fast enough to shatter glass and cause permanent vision damage.
In a statement released by the academy, doctors said: ‘When a champagne cork flies, you really have no time to react and protect your delicate eyes.
‘Champagne bottles contain pressure as high as 90 pounds per square inch – more than the pressure found inside a typical car tire.
‘This pressure can launch a champagne cork at 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle, which is fast enough to shatter glass. ‘Unfortunately, this is also fast enough to permanently damage vision.’Furthermore, when a champagne cork is whizzing through the air, we don’t have time to react.
And unfortunately, that span of time can cause a variety of serious eye injuries, including acute glaucoma, damage to the eye’s bone structure, dislocation of the lens, ocular bleeding, retinal detachment and the rupture of the eye wall.
Not only can these injuries can sometimes require emergency surgery, they can also lead to blindness in the affected eye. Previous research in the British Journal of Ophthalmology suggested that a 750 ml champagne bottle contains 4.125 litres of carbon dioxide with a pressure of 6.2 bar which can shoot the 30g cork up to 13 metres.
It added that with the typical opening distance of 60cm, the cork needs less than 0.05 seconds to reach the eye.
In the United States, most champagne bottles carry conspicuous warning labels explaining the perils to the eye and showing the correct way of bottle opening.
Because of the dangers, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has listed a variety of tips to help minimise the chances of an eye-related injuries.
These include placing a towel over the top of the bottle and holding the cork through the fabric. Then pull the cork out of the bottle slowly, countering with a bit of pressure when the cork is close to the surface.
Chill champagne to 7 degrees Celsius or cooler – corks are more likely to pop unexpectedly if the bottle is warm.
Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from your face and guests. While doing so, hold down the cork while removing the wire cage.
Place a towel over the top of the bottle, holding the cork through the fabric. Pull the cork out of the bottle slowly, countering with a bit of pressure when the cork is close to the surface.
Never use a corkscrew or a wine opener to open a champagne bottle. When opening the bottle, do not shake it, as this increases the speed at which a cork leaves the bottle.