Experts warn against Japanese eyeball licking trend

June 14, 2013 6:26:01 PM PDT
A strange courting trend in Japan is believed to be behind an increase in pink eye cases there. Teens seem to be spreading the disease by doing something called oculolinctus, also known as "eyeball kissing" or "worming," in which one licks their loved one's eyeball.

The bizarre trend has started popping up on Youtube, Tumblr and Twitter.

Experts are discouraging this type of activity because not only is pink eye is extremely contagious and painful, they fear there could be even harsher consequences.

Robert Cykiert, an associate professor in the department of ophthalmology at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said the surface of a healthy eye is normal mostly sterile, while the mouth is filled with bacteria and food particles.

"When you get licked on the eye, you're transferring dangerous bacteria to the eye," he said. "It's a very dangerous trend, to say the least. [People] may have scarring of the cornea that can be permanent depending on the bacteria in germs... it may cause a perforation or hole to develop."

While Cykiert said he hasn't seen evidence of "eyeball licking" in the U.S., he warns that teens should be wary of trying out the trend to prove their adoration as they can permanently damage their sight.


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