Sunday, December 31, 2023

News You Can Use From The BMJ—"Cheers not tears: champagne corks and eye injury"

From the British Medical Journal:

BMJ 2023; 383 doi: (Published 20 December 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;383:p2520 

Be careful this holiday season: ocular trauma while opening bottles of fizz can be significant—and easily avoided, advise Ethan Waisberg and colleagues

The joyful effervescence of champagne is often associated with celebration, happiness, and the holiday season. The rapid release of carbon dioxide gas after uncorking a bottle of sparkling wine is a memorable moment enjoyed by all, regardless of whether you drink alcohol. But there is a dark side to uncorking these bubbly beverages.

Cork eye injuries are an often overlooked and substantial threat to ocular health. Although our group usually publishes on the effects of spaceflight on the eye,123 this article focuses on the launch of sparkling wine corks instead of astronauts. The goal of this article is to ensure that you don’t begin the new year on the operating table of an eye surgeon.

Permanent blindness
This warning might at first sound overly cautious, but the American Academy of Ophthalmology has a public safety campaign, “Uncork with Care,” that gives practical tips for safely uncorking fizz bottles due to the “serious, potentially blinding eye injuries” that occur every year.4 The pressure in a 750 ml bottle of champagne or sparkling wine is about three times that of a standard car tyre, with the potential to launch a cork up to 13 m at speeds of up to 80 km/h.45 A cork can travel from bottle to eye in less than 0.05 seconds, making the blinking reflex ineffective. A cork hitting an eye can cause permanent blindness, retinal detachment, and lens dislocation, among other conditions. In May 2022 cyclist Biniam Girmay 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 haemorrhage, and he had to withdraw from the next stage of the competition.6

A retrospective review published in 2005 analysed cases of severe eye injuries resulting from bottles containing pressurised drinks in the United States, Hungary, and Mexico.5 Champagne bottle corks were responsible for 20% of the eye injuries related to bottle tops in the US, 71% in Hungary, and 0% in Mexico.5....