|Experts Warn on Eyeball Licking Trend|
|Gillian Mohney (@gillianmohney)||Jun 14, 2013, 3:00 PM|
Doctors worry that oculolinctus could damage eyesight. (Dimitri Vervitsiotis/Getty Images)
A new trend among Japanese teenagers called oculolinctus, also known as "eyeball licking," or "worming," is currently sweeping across the internet in videos and photos.
The bizarre trend has started popping up on Youtube, Tumblr and Twitter. The practice, in which teens show affection by licking their partner's eyeballs, may have started with a scene in a music video released last year from the Japanese band Born, which features a dramatic slow-motion scene of oculolinctus.
But experts are concerned that even if oculolinctius is done sparingly or on a dare, it could have very real consequences. Dr. 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," said Cykiert. "It's a very dangerous trend, to say the least."
Cykiert said transferring bacteria to the eye leaves people with a higher risk of contracting conjunctivitis or, more seriously, a corneal ulcer.
"[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," said Cykiert, who has had to give some patients with corneal ulcers a cornea transplant.
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.
Instead, Cykiert suggests, "sticking with hand holding and kissing, stuff that's been around for millions of years."