Eyeball-licking fetishism, also known as “oculolinctus” or “worming”, is gaining popularity as a way of expressing affection or inciting sexual arousal in Japan. With the increase of this activity, doctors are warning that there is a linkage to serious risk of virus conjunctivitis, other eye infections, and even blindness.
The oculolinctus craze in the country among young lovers has resulted in a significant increase in eye-infection cases. When the tongue makes contact with the eye, the eye is exposed to all kinds of infections and eye damage.
The trend of eyeball-licking was first documented when a Japanese school noticed that children were coming into class wearing eye patches. Apparently, one third of all the twelve-year-old children at the school had engaged in oculolinctus. This questionable trend was inspired by a Japanese emo band called “Born” in one of their music videos.
When interviewed by the Huffington Post on this phenomenon, ophthalmologist David Granet said “Nothing good can come of this. There are ridges on the tongue that can cause a corneal abrasion. And if a person hasn’t washed out their mouth, they might put acid from citrus products or spices into the eye.”
There is a very real risk of transmitting viruses. If the one who does the licking has herpes and/or a cold sore, there is a risk of human transmission via oculolinctus. If the licker suffers from halitosis (bad breath), they are more likely to have massive amounts of harmful bacteria in their mouth and on their tongue. Allowing such an individual to lick your eyeball (which has an absorbing membrane) puts you at risk of developing an infection.
Dr. Phillip Rizzuto, a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology said there is even a risk of eventual blindness. “The bacteria in the mouth are nothing like the bacteria in the eyeball, which is why we no longer recommend people lick contact lenses to moisten them.”
Animals use their tongues for personal hygiene (watch any pet cleaning itself). And in some cases, humans do the same (licking your thumb to remove a spot from your body). However, the tongue and mouth are designed to deal with a wide variety of pathogens that our eyeballs are not designed to deal with. There are many practices in the animal world that do not translate well to the human world. I think I can safely say that we all prefer our traditional handshake to the traditional method of introduction in the dog world.
If you want to show someone affection, hold their hand, give them a kiss or a hug. But PLEASE don’t lick their eyeball!
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