Japanese Eyeball Licking: Is 'Oculolinctus' Fetish Dangerous?

By iScienceTimes Staff on June 13, 2013 10:59 AM EDT

eyeball
Oculolinctus, or worming, is the practice of eyeball licking. Japanese teenagers are engaging in the fetish, alarming doctors who say the practice could lead to a number of infections. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Teenagers in Japan are reportedly engaging in eyeball licking, which is exactly what it sounds like.

The strange trend of Japanese eyeball licking started after middle school teachers noticed a number of their students wearing eye patches. At first they thought it was just a fashion craze. Eventually they realized it was because the kids were giving each other conjunctivitis, from all the eyeball licking.

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The website Shaghaist shares the story about one middle school teacher's discovery of the practice, which is called oculolinctus, or "worming":

After class one day, I went into the equipment store in the gymnasium to tidy up. The door had been left open, and when I looked inside, a male pupil and a female pupil had their faces close together and were kind of fumbling around...when I had a good look, the boy was licking the girl's eye! ... The girl burst into tears, and the boy just went bright red and was shaken up. At any rate, to try to calm them down I took them to the janitor's room and listened to their story.

The teacher questioned the students, who told him that the practice of eyeball licking was a sexual practice a bit more intimate than French kissing. In a school assembly that followed, a third of the students admitted to engaging in eyeball licking.

"It's strange to have something touch the eye without it hurting," said Andy Campbell, a Huffington Post journalist who braved a session of eyeball licking. "I was a receiver, not a giver. I don't see it as a sexual thing. But you have to be comfortable with someone."

Eyeball licking is a terrible idea, doctors say, as all kinds of infections and eye damage can occur when a tongue makes contact with an eye.

"Nothing good can come of this," one San Diego ophthalmologist told Huffington Post. "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."

Aside from the conjunctivitis, or pink eye, that kids in Japan are getting as a result of eyeball licking, other diseases like herpes could even spread to the eye from licking, another ophthalmologist told Huffington Post.

The absolute worst case scenario, the practice of eyeball licking could even lead to blindness, said Phillip Rizzuto, an ophthalmologist and a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

"The bacteria in the mouth is nothing like the bacteria in the eyeball," Rizzuto said, "which is why we no longer recommend people lick contact lenses to moisten them."

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