A man almost lost his vision in one eye after opening a bottle of champagne on Mother's Day last year.
Jeremy West had an operation that saved his eyesight, but it never fully recovered.
People with champagne cork eye injuries should immediately go to the ER, a specialist told Insider.
A man almost lost his vision 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 that the accident left him with worse vision and intermittent spots in his right eye "that look like a bug flying around."
Champagne cork eye injuries are rare, but when they occur the damage can be devastating and permanent, partly because corks can fly out of bottles at around 50 miles per hour, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
It felt like someone poked him in the eye "times a thousand"
West, a software engineer from the Bay Area in California, was dating a single mom at the time and decided to treat her to a Mother's Day brunch at his house, with mimosas.
That afternoon, on 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 out in front of him — but it didn't.
"It happened very fast. All of a sudden, it went pop and then my eye was shut and I was in a ton of pain," he said.
West said that there was "extremely intense throbbing" in his right eye, "like you poked yourself in the eye, times a thousand."
When he tried to open it, he saw a yellow, orange color, caused by bleeding blood vessels.
"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 punched
Due to its size, getting a champagne cork in the eye can be more dangerous than being punched, because it can pass bones to directly hit the eye, Dr. Rahul Khurana, West's surgeon and a clinical associate professor in ophthalmology at UCSF Medical Center, told Insider. The injury can cause the eye to bleed or rupture and the retina at the back of the eye to detach, leading to potential irreversible vision loss.
It's "very important" to get seen immediately at the ER after getting hit in the eye with a cork, Khurana, who is also an AAO spokesperson, said. People should be monitored by an opthalmologist after the injury even if things seem OK at first, as problems can take a while to develop, he said.
After a few weeks, West noticed a black shadowy patch in his vision
After getting hit in the eye West immediately went to the ER in a taxi, where he passed out in the hot stuffy waiting room, in excruciating pain.
The ophthalmologist in the ER could only see blood in the eye at the time, so they gave West eye drops and advised him to sit upright to help clear it. After West was discharged, his eye was assessed twice a week for the next few weeks.
As it was healing, West noticed a black shadowy patch at the bottom right of his vision, and sometimes he'd get "these weird, like bright halo effects" around the outside of his eye.
It got so bad that he couldn't see out of the bottom third of his eye, and he lost his peripheral vision.
The ophthalmologist referred West to Khurana, who diagnosed him with retinal detachment. West had urgent surgery, where a silicon band was placed around his eyeball to try to squeeze the retina back into place.
The bruising and swelling from surgery took two weeks to settle. West also needed a vitrectomy, which removed the gel-like substance from the middle of the eye and meant he had to sleep upright for two weeks, as well as a "painful," "hot" laser treatment.
It took four months for his eye to heal and his vision has never fully recovered.
Open champagne bottles with a towel to avoid injury
Khurana recommended that people follow the AAO's guidance to prevent champagne cork injuries, such as chilling the champagne before opening, placing a towel over the cork when opening, and pressing down as you twist the bottle open.
West gets anxious when others open champagne around him, but he continues to drink mimosas, always using a towel to open the bottle.
"Sometimes when I open a bottle, I get a little jumpy," he said.
Read the original article on Insider