Have you ever licked your fingers and touched your eyes? Although this is a very unhealthy practice, it seems far less invasive than a new trend popping up in Japan. Young children have been caught licking one another's eyeballs, a practice called worming. Japanese teenagers have joined in on this odd form of adoration after seeing it in a music video by local band Born. There are countless reasons why this habit is incredibly dangerous, and not to mention disgusting, for teens. While the trend has not yet been seen in the United States, it's very important to note the harmful side effects.
The mouth is a breeding ground for anaerobic bacteria, which can cause many issues in the eye. For example, pink eye is a common issue for people who get bacteria in their eye, leading to redness, itching, inflammation and liquid discharge. Anaerobic bacteria also cause bad breath, which can be an indication that an individual's oral hygiene is not up to par.
Anaerobic bacteria accumulate at the back of the mouth and on the tongue, and they thrive on leftover food particles that have not been rinsed away. It is important to brush your teeth, use mouthwash and floss to get rid of these bacteria and avoid causing bad breath.
Eyeball licking can lead to an infection if the person has high levels of the bad breath-causing bacteria. Additionally, this can create lifelong issues in the eye such as a corneal ulcer.
"When you get licked on the eye, you're transferring dangerous bacteria to the eye. It's a very dangerous trend, to say the least," Dr. Robert Cykiert, an associate professor in the department of ophthalmology at New York University's Langone Medical Center, told ABC News. "[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."
Some doctors used to recommend licking contact lenses to moisten them, but research shows that the bacteria in the mouth is completely different than those in the eyes. Spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology Dr. Phillip Rizzuto said there is a chance of eventual blindness from this practice. Because the eyeball has an absorbing membrane, the possibility of infection from eyeball licking is very high.