Watch out for cork accidents this festive season

Corks can explode from festive fizz at up to 50 miles per hour and are capable of causing permanent eye damage, warn experts.

Pressure in a 750ml bottle of sparkling wine is about three times that of a standard car tyre.

The cork can travel to the eye in less than 0.05 seconds, making blinking useless.

Ethan Waisberg, from Cambridge University’s Department of Ophthalmology, and colleagues say the warning may seem overly cautious but cork eye injuries are an often overlooked and a substantial threat to optical health.

The retina can become detached, the lens dislocated and it can even lead to permanent blindness.

Academics suggest chilling the bottle before opening to reduce pressure, pointing it safely away at a 45-degree angle and pressing down on the cork. If injured, see an ophthalmologist quickly.

The researchers suggest warning labels and alternative packaging materials, such as a screw cap.

They point to cyclist Biniam Girmay who in 2022 opened a bottle of prosecco to celebrate his Giro d’Italia stage win and the cork hit his eye, forcing him to withdraw from the race.

The authors, writing in the BMJ, urged people to toast the arrival of 2024 but added: “The goal of this article is to ensure that you don’t begin the New Year on the operating table of an eye surgeon.”

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