When the clock strikes midnight, we'll all be ringing in the new year. For those of us in the eye care field, we'll be celebrating with extra enthusiasm, as 2020 will be the "Year of the Eye Doctor." (You know, like 20/20 vision?) You can expect extra corny jokes (or “cornea” jokes) from every person you know who works in the eye care industry — I've warned you.
As is tradition, New Year’s Eve calls for a celebratory champagne toast with fireworks, sparklers, and party poppers. However, these items can cause serious, even blinding, eye injuries if not handled correctly.
FIREWORKS + SPARKLERS
When handled improperly, fireworks can cause serious, even deadly, injuries and damage. Even sparklers, a firework that is considered by many to be "safe" for younger people to use, can be dangerous as they burn at very high temperatures (more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit). Sparklers are one of leading causes of firework-related injuries and should be treated with the same precaution you would use with other fireworks. The most frequently injured body parts are the hands, head/neck, and eyes.
For those who decide to purchase and use fireworks or sparklers, follow these safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:
Do not allow young children to play with fireworks. Older children should be permitted to use fireworks only under close adult supervision.
Set off fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from houses, dry leaves, or grass and other flammable materials.
Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that fail to ignite or explode.
Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning or "dud" fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
Never light fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
Store fireworks in a cool, dry place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
Observe local laws.
Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting. Point sparklers away from your face, and others.
Party poppers may look harmless, but they can cause eye injuries if you aren't careful. These handheld, bottle-shaped plastic party favors emit a shower of streamers and confetti that can cause burns to the skin and eyes if fired at close range. Always point party poppers away from your face and others.
Every year around this holiday, warnings of the dangers of champagne bottles "pop up," so to speak. The cause for concern is a major one, as warm bottles of champagne and improper cork-removal techniques can cause serious, potentially blinding eye injuries.
How? Champagne bottles contain pressure as high as 90 pounds per square inch – this is approximately double or triple the pressure found inside a typical car tire. This internal pressure can launch a champagne cork anywhere from 25 to 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle, according to various sources.
While champagne cork mishaps are rare, when they do happen, they can cause serious eye injuries. Reported injuries include damage to the eye's bone structure, rupture of the eye, or dislocation of the lens, as well as acute glaucoma, retinal detachment, or ocular bleeding. Due to the extensive damage of these injuries, they can lead to blindness in the affected eye.
HOW TO PROPERLY UNCORK A CHAMPAGNE BOTTLE
Before you uncork a bottle of champagne for the first time, you should view a video demonstration of proper champagne cork removal. To celebrate safely, follow these simple tips on how to properly open a bottle of champagne:
Chill sparkling wine and champagne to 45 degrees Fahrenheit 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.
If you experience an eye injury from a champagne cork, seek immediate medical attention from an eye care professional.
Wishing you a healthy and prosperous New Year! I look forward to sharing my experiences and perspectives with you in 2020!
Photography by Jordan Lambesis