Pop the cork for 2012, but watch your eyes

PHILADELPHIA, PA.; December 29, 2011

Doctors say hundreds of people every year get eye injuries from flying champagne corks. Some even get posted on YouTube.

A cork can fly at 50 miles an hour - with a force strong enough to break glass.

And the eye is especially vulnerable to injury.

Dr. Michael Dellavecchia, an emergency room specialist at Wills Eye Institute, says, "The champagne cork is rather small...eyeball itself."

Dr. DellaVecchia says he & colleagues at Wills Eye Institute have seen several cork injuries recently.

The damage can range from scratched corneas to detached retinas - all taking weeks or months to heal.

To properly open champagne, point the bottle away from others, and cover the cork with a towel, as you gently twist it lose.

In order for everyone to enjoy a fun, safe and injury-free holiday, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is providing tips on how to properly open a bottle of champagne.

• Make sure sparkling wine is chilled to at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.

• Don't shake the bottle. Shaking increases the speed at which the cork leaves the bottle thereby increasing your chances of severe eye injury.

• To open the bottle safely, 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 from any bystanders.

• Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.

• Keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle as you slowly and firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal. Continue to hold the cork while twisting the bottle. Continue until the cork is almost out of the neck. Counter the force of the cork using slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.

• Never use a corkscrew to open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine.

Watch video of a champagne cork shattering glass, and a video lesson on opening a bottle the right way.

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