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Eyeball licking trend giving pinkeye to Japanese kids

By KATE STANTON, UPI.com   |   June 16, 2013 at 7:13 AM   |   Comments

June 16 (UPI) -- A strange practice called oculolinctus, also known as "worming" or "eyeball licking," has become a popular display of affection for Japanese teenagers. But unfortunately, the erotic trend has doctors worried about potentially negative side effects for young people.

"This is a dangerous practice which has the potential to spread a number of bacteria that reside in the mouth to the eye resulting in bacterial infections such as conjunctivitis to styes as well as abscesses involving the lids and eye socket," Dr. Robert Glatter told CBS.com on Friday.

According to Shanghaiist, teachers first noticed the craze taking off in Japan when students started wearing eyepatches -- to hide the effects of various bacterial infections -- to school.

Shanghaiist cites the testimony of a Japanese middle school teacher, who wrote a post for the blog Naver Matome about catching two of his students in the act.

As an extension of acts like kissing and touching each other’s bodies, they were licking each other’s eyeballs. When Mr. Y asked them why they were doing such a thing, the male pupil said, “Because it’s popular in our class. It’s not just us two anyway. Everyone’s doing it…"

Eyeball-lickers are also susceptible to "eye-chlamydia," according to Dr. Glatter.

"Chlamydia is a bacteria of particular concern which can be spread sexually, and has the potential to lead to blindness if left untreated," he said. "Although its incidence is decreasing, it is always a concern in this setting, especially if there has been any orogenital contact."

The Guardian reported that the trend started with the Japanese emo band, Born, which featured eyeball-licking in a music video.

Follow @KateStan and @UPI on Twitter.
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