Top 7 Holiday Eye Hazards: Champagne Corks, Glitter, and More

Between the twinkling lights, glittery decorations, and bustling crowds, the holiday season might be merry and bright, but eye dangers lurk everywhere, even in your own home. Your eyes allow you to see the holiday season’s beauty. The last thing you want is an injury that could affect your vision. Can you imagine never seeing a Christmas tree or Hanukkah menorah ever again? What about the look on your loved ones’ faces on New Year’s Eve? Won’t you miss seeing their cheery smiles?

Don’t be at risk of vision loss. As you gear up for the celebrations, take simple precautions to avoid painful eye injuries and keep your peepers healthy and bright all season long.


Most Common Holiday Eye Hazards

What good are the holidays if you can’t see all the merrymaking clearly? Take it from Arizona Retinal Specialists, these are the seven eye hazards to avoid:


1. Holiday Lights

Keep a safe distance of 5 to 6 inches or about 15 cm away from intense decorative lights like LEDs. Their harsh glare can cause eyestrain and headaches. Excessive exposure can also cause irreversible loss of retinal cells, leading to progressive and severe vision loss.

Related: Are LED Lights Harmful to the Eye?


2. Branches, Pine Needles, and Sharp Ornaments

photo of a christmas tree

When putting up your holiday decorations, be extra careful around sharp or breakable objects. For example, pine needles and branches from traditional Christmas trees can easily scratch your eyeballs. Deep corneal abrasions can cause infections, scarring, and potential long-term vision issues. Therefore, wear protective eyewear when handling live trees or wreaths.

In addition, attach all hanging ornaments securely, especially glass and plastic pieces that will shatter upon impact. If an ornament falls, look away immediately to avoid injury. It takes a second for a sharp object to cause eye damage, so be extra cautious. Your vision is too precious to put at risk during the holidays or any time of year.


3. Fireworks and Sparklers

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, around 12,900 firework-related injuries occurred in 2017, and an estimated 1,538 of the cases were eye-related injuries.

Mishandling fireworks can cause severe eye injuries, including corneal abrasions, thermal and chemical burns, and retinal detachment. Even sparklers, which many consider harmless, burn between 1800° and 3000° degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree ocular burns. Children and young adults are frequent victims.

Related: Fireworks and Eye Safety: The Dos and Don’ts


4. Champagne Corks

photo of a person opening a wine bottle

Popping the cork on a bottle of champagne is an exciting part of any celebration. However, be extremely careful where you point the bottle before it pops. Corks can fly out at up to 27.3 miles per hour, potentially blinding you or one of your guests.

“Champagne cork injuries really do happen, and they have real consequences,” warned Andrew Iwach, MD, ophthalmologist. In 2019, a champagne cork flew into reality star Theo Campbell’s right eye, splitting his eyeball in half. After two surgeries, he remains blind in one eye.


How to Pop Open a Champagne Cork Safely

Keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from you and anyone nearby. Never shake the bottle before opening, as it increases the pressure and velocity of the cork. You can also chill your champagne before opening it to reduce pressure buildup. Read the AAO’s complete guide here.


5. Glitter

photo of a person's hand with glitter

Avoid throwing loose glitter at holiday parties or events. Those specks of sparkle may look festive, but they can scratch your eyes or get stuck under your eyelids. Instead, consider small pieces or streamers of paper confetti. It’s a fun, safer alternative that won’t cause severe eye irritation or damage. Best of all, paper is easier to clean. You won’t discover glitter in odd places for several months after the holidays.


6. Hot Oil

Be extremely cautious around hot oils and grease while cooking. Ensure not to overfill pots and pans with oil when frying. If the oil bubbles up too high, it can splatter and burn your eye or spill over and cause a fire.

Before you fry food, wear protective eye gear or keep a lid on the pot or pan to prevent unwanted accidents. Most of all, never leave boiling oil unattended.


7. Flour

It may seem fun or romantic in Hallmark Christmas movies, but never throw flour at someone’s face. Its particles can irritate the eyes and cause redness, watering, pain, and infection.


First Aid for Holiday Eye Injuries

Flush out any chemicals, debris, or foreign materials by rinsing your eye immediately with clean water for at least 15 minutes. Tilt your head to allow the water to drain from the inner corner of your eye. In case of severe pain, swelling, and/or bleeding, ask a loved one to call an ambulance or drive you to an emergency eye care center right away. Getting immediate medical help can make a difference in preventing loss of vision or permanent eye damage.

While waiting to see the doctor:

  • Avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Do not apply drops, ointments, or medication in the eye unless instructed otherwise by a medical professional.
  • Cover both eyes with bandages or gauze pads to avoid unnecessary eye strain or movement.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication, if needed, to relieve discomfort.

Acting quickly in an eye emergency and following proper first aid steps can lessen the severity and prevent permanent damage. Read 7 Things That Compromise Eye Safety at Home and Eye Emergency Types and First Aid for more in-depth information.

The holidays happen once a year, so make the most of them without compromising your vision. It’s also the season of giving, so give your eyes the gift of care, consideration, and protection from harm. They deserve nothing less.


Get an Eye Exam in Sun City, AZ

If you have concerns about a recent or past eye injury or haven’t had a dilated eye exam in a long while, contact Arizona Retinal Specialists at 623-474-3937 (EYES). We’re proud to have some of the best and most experienced ophthalmologists in Phoenix, AZ.

NOTICE TO USERS is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on