When the champagne starts flowing today, party-goers likely are paying more attention to resolutions and significant others than safety.
But according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, improper cork removal and champagne at warm temperatures can make for a blindingly bad New Year's Eve and lead to serious eye injury. When gathered around the punch bowl singing "Auld Lang Syne," keep the following safety tips in mind.
Champagne bottles contain pressure as high as 90 pounds per square inch, which is almost three times as high as the pressure found inside your average car tire. This level of pressure can launch a cork at speeds of 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle. This is fast enough to permanently damage vision, and even shatter glass.
Mishandled champagne corks can lead to eye injuries including eye wall rupture, acute glaucoma, retinal detachment, ocular bleeding, dislocation of the lens, and damage to the eye's bone structure, according to the AAO. These injuries can require emergency surgery or even lead to blindness.
The AAO offers tips for avoiding injury when popping open champagne bottles to ring in 2014:
Chill sparkling wine and champagne to 45 degrees or colder 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.
Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and any bystanders and hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood on the bottle.
Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.
Twist the bottle while holding the cork at a 45-degree angle to break the seal. Counter the force of the cork using downward pressure as the cork breaks free from the bottle.
Optometrist Dr. Albert Pang says that although trauma from flying champagne corks is the most common New Year celebration eye injury, corneal abrasions from sparklers and poppers are the next-most common eye injuries on New Year's Eve, and are also worth keeping an eye out for.
"Poppers contain small pieces of projectiles, when it explodes and hits your face, small projectiles can scratch your cornea," Pang said. He indicated this type of injury occurs most often in younger children, so adult supervision is important. Common symptoms of corneal abrasion are tearing, becoming light sensitive and sharp pain while blinking.
When it comes to celebratory sparklers, the flame isn't what causes most of the danger to eyes: It's the sharp point of the sparkler after it is burned. Never wave a sparkler in front of someone’s face, and don't sword fight with sparklers, Pang said.
When injuries occur from a sparkler, don’t press on your eyes. "Many times it makes the injury worse because there may be a little of the sparkler still lodged in the cornea, and pressing it will make it harder to remove," Pang said.
Whether you're popping open a champagne cork the old-fashioned way, practicing the art of sabrage, playing with sparklers or pulling poppers, use common sense and eye injury can be easily avoided.