Healio Interviews

Disclosures: Iwach reports no relevant financial disclosures.
December 21, 2020
1 min read

Ocular injuries from flying corks a concern during holidays in COVID-19 isolation


Healio Interviews

Disclosures: Iwach reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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In a year when Americans have been isolated, many may feel the urge to celebrate a new year, even over the internet on video chatting platforms, but concern for cork-related ocular trauma is as great as ever.

“My concern is greater because of the COVID crisis,” Andrew Iwach, MD, told Healio/OSN. Iwach has treated more than one patient with ocular trauma caused by popping corks. The small size and high velocity make corks a dangerous prospect for unprotected eyes.

“I can just imagine on NYE, people, who have been isolated from friends and family, drinking at home more than usual, eager to celebrate the end of 2020, and on top of that distracted by the Zoom session web camera, all while trying to dramatically open a champagne bottle,” Iwach said.

Andrew Iwach

When a dislodged cork hits the eye, it can send shockwaves throughout. The shockwaves can disrupt the delicate tissue and cause internal bleeding, Iwach said. Even in less severe cases, the impact can have long-term consequences, such as glaucoma or retinal detachment.

“There can be permanent loss of vision,” Iwach said.

Many people who sustain less severe ocular injuries might not seek immediate help. Years later, those same people may present with glaucoma in one eye. In these cases, it is likely there was previous trauma in the eye, according to Iwach, a glaucoma specialist.

“We want people to find some joy in these difficult times, but if you’re going to introduce a pressurized bottle with a potential flying projectile, an unguided little missile, do it with caution and be aware that there is a risk,” Iwach said.

In order to pop a bottle of sparkling wine while minimizing the risk of injury, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends chilling the bottle and refraining from shaking the bottle and pointing it toward other people. When opening, press down on the cork while twisting the bottle. Finally, be careful with delicate glassware after pouring the drink to reduce the risk of breaking the champagne glasses.


Shelton B. How to pop a champagne cork without harming your eye. Published Nov. 12, 2020. Accessed Dec. 16, 2020.