In the coming weeks, you and your family or friends might find yourselves opening a bottle of fizz to celebrate Christmas and the start of another year but experts have issued a warning to keep you safe while you do.

The experts have warned people to be careful when opening bottles as the corks can leave bottles at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour and could result in permanent eye damage.

Academics have suggested that the injuries can be easily avoided and to minimise risk, they’ve explained the best way to open a bottle of fizz.

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

Glasgow Times: Experts have warned people to be careful when opening bottles this ChristmasExperts have warned people to be careful when opening bottles this Christmas (Image: Getty Images)

How can a cork become a problem when opening a bottle of fizz?

Pressure in a 750ml bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine is about three times that of a standard car tyre, according to the experts.

This has the potential to launch a cork up to 13 metres at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

They added that the cork can travel from the bottle to the eye so fast (in less than 0.05 seconds) making the blinking reflex ineffective.

Corks can cause multiple injuries including permanent blindness, the retina becoming detached, lens dislocation and other conditions.

How to open a bottle correctly to reduce risk of eye injuries

The academics have suggested some tips to avoid injury during toasts, in line with guidance from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Chilling the bottle before opening it can help to reduce pressure and cork velocity.

When opening a bottle, you should point it at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and others.

Counteracting the upward-moving force of the cork by pressing down on it could help you avoid injuries too.

Glasgow Times: Knowing how to open a bottle safely could reduce your risk of being injuredKnowing how to open a bottle safely could reduce your risk of being injured (Image: PA Graphics)

If you are injured, you should seek prompt consultation with an ophthalmologist to minimise the risk of vision impairment.

Writing in the BMJ, the authors say: “Let us toast to an excellent new year, keep the bubbly in our glass, and the sparkle in our eyes.”

In the paper, the researchers underscore the need for awareness and preventive measures, including warning labels and alternative packaging materials such as a screw cap to safeguard people.

They point to a case in 2022 when cyclist Biniam Girmay opened a bottle of prosecco on the winners’ podium to celebrate his win at the Giro d’Italia, and the cork hit his eye, forcing him to withdraw from the next stage of the competition.

A number of other studies have looked at the impact of cork-related eye injuries.

One example is a study published in 2005 which found that Champagne bottle corks were responsible for 20% of eye injuries related to bottle tops in the US and 71% in Hungary.

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Although many people’s sight improved, the study found that in 26% of cases related to pressurised drinks, people remained legally blind.

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A 2009 review of 34 cases of eye injuries caused by corks and caps from sparkling wine bottles in Italy found injuries including bleeding, lens dislocation and traumatic cataract formation.

Complications included pupil movement issues, separation of the iris and macular degeneration which is a degenerative condition affecting the retina, and glaucoma.

The authors add: “The goal of this article is to ensure that you don’t begin the new year on the operating table of an eye surgeon.”