AS A week of Christmas parties and New Years celebrations begin, eye surgeons at a Hampshire hospital are warning of the perils of the celebratory champagne.

Misdirected champagne corks are one of the leading causes of eye accidents that result in an A&E visit, specialists at Optegra Eye Hospital Hampshire in Whiteley are warning.

Mr. Amir Hamid, Optegra eye surgeon, said: “While human biology means the eyeball is designed to be protected by the eye socket bones, small and fast-flying champagne corks are smaller than that area and can cause great damage as they hit the eyes.

“Ophthalmic A&E is an incredibly busy place of the winter months, and at Christmas, we treat many people who fall victim to a misguided ‘pop’ of a champagne cork.

"As it travels at such speed, up to 55 miles an hour, it can cause damage and bruising to the cornea – the outer layer of the eye – as well as more extensive damage to the very fragile inner parts of the eye.

"Some of these cases may well require surgery to fix.”

Wine expert, Gavin Kean from leading winemaker Chapel Down, is encouraging people to drink responsibly this Christmas and is offering residents advice.

  • Chilling to correct temperature (6 to 10 degrees C) helps reduce the risk of the cork popping too quickly
  • Remove the foil and loosen the cage
  • The cork must be held securely in place from the moment the wire cage is loosened
  • Tilt the bottle at a 30 degree angle. Grip the cork and use the other hand to grip base of the bottle
  • Turn bottle not cork
  • Hold the bottle steady, resisting its tendency to fly out, and ease it out of the bottle
  • The sound should be a quiet ‘phhhuut’ and not a pop and exploding cork.

Ophthalmic surgeons are asking residents to make sure that they are safe throughout the whole festive period.

They advise that champagne bottles should be opened facing away from people and cooks should turn their head to the side as you lift your turkey roast out of the oven as oil may spit into their face.

Party-goers should also wash make-up off, even after a late Christmas party, to reduce risk of infection and always take contact lenses out before going to bed.