NOTE: This BDlive blog entry was based on a blog published by the Guardian newspaper in the UK that has since been revealed as based on a hoax. Marika Sboros has written a follow-up blog to explain how the hoax was exposed and how BDlive came to report on it too.
A FETISH by definition is about bizarre behaviour, usually associated with sexual gratification. It can be harmful, but doesn’t have to be — other than to the sensibilities or sensitivities of those confronted with it, who may deem it deviant or downright disgusting.
Fetishes are not usually associated with children. There is one in which Japanese children as young as 12 are reported to indulge. I fervently hope it is one South African children never decide to follow.
It is a fetish I didn’t even know existed, until I read media reports about it, although I quickly realised I often see animals doing it.
It is oculophilia, or oculolinctus, also called “worming”. It involves licking someone’s eyeballs supposedly as a show of affection, and it is a fetish that can cause extreme harm to vision.
The Japanese website Naver Matome revealed the rise in eyeball licking among young children, saying that in one class of 12-year-olds, a third had reported having tried it.
Japanese teachers picked it up, apparently, after noticing a sudden increase in the incidence of eye infections among their pupils.
Medical experts say the practice can potentially cause a range of vision problems that include styes, conjunctivitis, ruptures to the cornea, and in extreme cases, blindness.
It can also cause an ocular form of chlamydia, a common sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria.
That can be a consequence of the tongue scratching the surface of the eye, and depositing oral bacteria that can cause an infection.
That’s because eyeball licking potentially traumatises the eye, says US ophthalmologist Dr Robert Noecker on The Medical Daily website.
“You can knock cells off and easily scratch the cornea, which can lead to a corneal ulcer that can be blinding,” he says.
While eyeball licking makes my skin scrawl, it isn’t even the most bizarre behaviour some people get up to in the Land of the Rising Sun.
A blog on The Guardian newspaper website in the UK says of the fetish: “Hopefully (it) won’t catch on here, and will remain one of those peculiarly Japanese fads such as bagelheading (injecting saline into your forehead until it swells out of all proportion, yaeba (undergoing dental surgery to give you crooked teeth) and shippo (wearing a neurologically controlled tail that reveals your moods).
“Because frankly, if oculolinctus does ever make it to these shores, I’m never going to be able to look at a lychee again.”
Couldn’t have put it better myself.