ACCIDENT – It’s a hell of a tile for cyclist Biniam Girmay. The Eritrean was forced on Wednesday May 18 to abandon the Giro, in which he had just won a stage, because of a cork of Prosecco which jumped into his eye when he opened his bottle on the podium. to celebrate his victory.
“Examinations revealed damage to the left eye, which requires the utmost precaution and rest,” said his team. His doctor Piet Daneels specified that “the examinations revealed a hemorrhage in the anterior chamber of the left eye of Biniam Girmay”. Two weeks earlier, the same misadventure had almost happened to his competitor Mathieu van der Poel. Luckily for him, the cork only hit his shoulder.
When these two cases are submitted to her by us, Dr. Laurence Desjardins, director of the French Society of Ophthalmology is surprised. “It’s a rare accident for cyclists. Usually, it’s on New Year’s Eve, on the evening of December 31, that this kind of accident happens, ”she notes.
The champagne cork, particularly dangerous
The French ophthalmology society does not have figures available to quantify the phenomenon and studies on this specific subject are rare. The most relayed is that of 2004 published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. The authors worked on three countries -Mexico, United States, Hungary- and their ocular accidents. Of 12,889 recorded injuries, 90 resulted from champagne corks or broken glass when opening a bottle.
As the authors explain, the champagne cork is particularly dangerous. A 75 centiliter bottle contains 4.125 liters of carbon dioxide for a pressure of 6.2 bars. This means that the 30 gram plug can rise up to 13 meters in height. And it only takes 0.05 seconds to reach an eye that is 60 centimeters from the bottle, much less time than the blinking reflex in this kind of situation.
Orient the bottle vertically
“It is an accident known to ophthalmologists. Gravity is explained by the fact that the diameter of the plug is less than that of the orbit. A soccer ball can be stopped by the bone around the eye. The caliber of the champagne cork is smaller, the bony rim cannot protect the eyes,” explains Dr. Desjardins.
“The trauma can be very violent,” she continues. She cites iris disinsertion and retinal detachment as examples. Intraocular hemorrhages, traumatic cataracts or worse, still recoverable vision problems can also occur. In the 2004 study, of the 90 injured by a champagne cork, a quarter remained blind or with severely impaired sight.
So how do you avoid these silly but dangerous accidents? “You must always orient the bottle vertically, not towards anyone, nor towards yourself. You have to get away from the axis”, even before removing the metal wire that serves as protection, recommends Dr. Laurence Desjardins. And of course, be extra vigilant at each opening.
See also also on the Huffpost: “Do you have the champagne chilled?” This question from the Vice-President of the Assembly goes badly
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