'Eyeball Licking' Trend Is Giving All the Japanese Kids Pink Eye

UPDATE: Snopes has rated this trend "Fake" based on an article by "Tokyo-based journalist Mark Schreiber" who traced its origins to a story on a subculture website that "had all the trappings of an urban legend."

Though Schreiber, who spoke with the story's author, was unable to definitively disprove that the activity had taken or was taking place, he was at least able to debunk the idea that the phenomenon was "widespread" among Japanese youths.

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A Japanese website has finally exposed the real reason why so many Japanese kids have been showing up at school wearing eye patches: They've contracted pink eye after engaging in the intimate act known as "eyeball licking."

Which is exactly what it sounds like: One person spreads their eyelids wide, inviting the other person to lick their eyeball.

The emergence of the trend was first brought to the public's attention by a local teacher identified only as "Mr. Y."

In a post on the website Naver Matome, Mr. Y recalled his first traumatic encounter with the craze:

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. Could it be bullying? I wondered, but when I had a good look, the boy was licking the girl’s eye! Surprised, a shouted “What are you doing? Stop it at once!” and the two of them were so shocked they jumped apart. 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 goes on to say that a survey conducted among the school's "year 6" students (mostly 12-year-old) found that "a surprising one third of the kids had done 'eyeball licking,' or had had their eyeballs licked."

Apparently the act of licking someone's eyeball is considered the next "base" after French kissing.

The practice — also known as "worming" or "oculolinctus" — has apparently led to rash of pink eye (conjunctivitis) cases in Japanese elementary and middle schools.

And eyeball licking appears to be spreading.

"My boyfriend started licking my eyeballs years ago and I just loved it," a a 29-year-old environmental science student from the U.S. Virgin Islands told The Huffington Post. "I'm not with him anymore, but I still like to ask guys to lick my eyeballs. I just love it because it turns me on, like sucking on my toes. It makes me feel all tingly."

[photo via Naver Matome, screengrab via Born on YouTube]