- A man nearly lost sight in one eye after opening a bottle of champagne on Mother’s Day last year.
- Jeremy West underwent surgery that saved her sight, but she never fully recovered.
- People with champagne cork eye injuries should go to the emergency room immediately, a specialist told Insider.
A man nearly lost sight in one eye after a champagne cork flew into it during a Mother’s Day celebration.
Ahead of Eye Injury Prevention Month in October, Jeremy West, 40, told Insider the accident left him with worse vision and intermittent spots in his right eye “that look like a bug. who fly”.
Injuries to champagne cork eyes are rare, but when they do occur, the damage can be devastating and permanent, in part because corks can fly out of bottles at around 80 km/h, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
It was like someone poked him in the eye ‘a thousand times’
West, a software engineer from the Bay Area in California, was dating a single mother at the time and decided to treat her to a Mother’s Day brunch at his house, complete with mimosas.
That afternoon, May 9, 2021, West went to open a second bottle of champagne, placing it on a counter and standing behind it, using his thumb to release the cork. He expected it to fly past him, but it didn’t.
“It happened very quickly. All of a sudden it popped and then my eye closed and it hurt really badly,” he said.
West said there were “extremely intense throbbing” in his right eye, “like you’re poking your eye, a thousand times.”
When he tried to open it, he saw a yellow, orange color caused by blood vessels bleeding.
“I could see bright spots where there were light sources, but I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face,” he said.
Getting hit in the eye with a cork can be more dangerous than getting hit
Due to its size, putting a champagne cork in your eye can be more dangerous than being punched, as it can pass through the bones to directly hit the eye, said Dr. Rahul Khurana, a surgeon at West and clinical associate professor of ophthalmology at UCSF Medical Center, says Insider. The injury can cause the eye to bleed or rupture and the retina to detach from the back of the eye, leading to potential irreversible vision loss.
It is “very important” to be seen immediately in the emergency room after being hit in the eye with a cork, said Khurana, who is also a spokesperson for the AAO. People should be monitored by an eye doctor after the injury, even if things seem fine at first, because problems can take a while to develop, he said.
After a few weeks, West noticed a black, dark spot in his vision.
After being shot in the eye, West immediately drove to the emergency room by taxi, where he passed out in the hot, stuffy waiting room in excruciating pain.
The ER eye doctor could only see blood in the eye at the time, so they gave West eye drops and advised him to sit up straight to help clear it out. After West was released, his eye was assessed twice a week for the following weeks.
While he was healing, West noticed a black, dark spot in the lower right of his vision, and sometimes he had “these weird, shimmer-like halo effects” around the outside of his eye.
The situation got so bad that he could no longer see out of the lower third of his eye and he lost his peripheral vision.
The eye doctor referred West to Khurana, who diagnosed him with retinal detachment. West underwent urgent surgery, where a band of silicone was placed around his eyeball to try and push the retina back into place.
The bruising and swelling from the surgery took two weeks to settle. West also needed a vitrectomy, which removed the gel-like substance from the middle of his eye and forced him to sleep upright for two weeks, as well as “painful” “hot” laser treatment.
It took four months for his eye to heal and his vision never fully recovered.
Open champagne bottles with a napkin to avoid injury
Khurana recommended people follow the AAO’s advice to avoid champagne cork injury, such as cooling champagne before opening it, placing a towel over the cork when opening, and pressing down when swirling the bottle. to open it.
West becomes anxious when others open champagne around him, but he continues to drink mimosas, still using a napkin to open the bottle.
“Sometimes when I open a bottle I get a little nervous,” he said.