More than 20 people who attended Apefest, a festival from costly NFT company Bored Ape Yacht Club based in Hong Kong, have reported serious eye injuries following the event.
NFT holders headed to Apefest from across the world over the weekend to celebrate their crypto-purchased artwork and party with other NFT fans, kicking off the celebrations on Friday, November 3.
In the early hours of November 5, just after the three-day festival had come to a close, attendees reported severe eye pain - and it wasn’t because of the NFTs.
Woke up in the middle of the night after Apefest with so much pain in my eyes that I had to go to the hospital. I've seen several tweets about it— Crypto June (@CryptoJune777) November 5, 2023
Doctor told me it was due to the UV from stage lights. I go to festivals often but have never experienced this
I try to understand…
“Anyone else’s eyes burning from last night?” asked one festivalgoer on Twitter (X) after the event. “Woke up at 3am with extreme pain and ended up in ER,” they added.
Another attendee reported waking up at 4:AM on the morning of November 5 without vision. “Had so much pain and my skin is burned,” they said. “The doctor told me the UV of the lighting of the stage did it. It has the same effect as sunlight.”
Attendees cited eye issues common with prolonged exposure to UV lighting without protection, particularly when looking at UV C lighting, a dangerous form of light used for killing bacteria and viruses.
Cryptocurrency analyst Adrian Zdunczyk, who was also in attendance at Apefest, shared that he was diagnosed with “photokeratitis over both eyes” following a trip to the eye clinic, where he spent close to $400 USD on examinations.
[For information purposes only]— Adrian Zduńczyk, CMT (@crypto_birb) November 6, 2023
So far, 30 hours since woke up with severe eye burn, I’ve visited emergency hospital and eye clinic and spent there a total of 6 hours.
Got diagnosed with “photokeratitis over both eyes, accident related” with prescribed steroid eye drops and eye… https://t.co/qZadVqsQFg pic.twitter.com/5EULptCR4H
“We’ve most likely been exposed to experience similar to Mt Everest climbers - snow blindness,” he said, explaining that snow blindness is caused by “unprotected exposure of the cornea and conjunctiva to ultraviolet (UV) light, specifically UV-B”.
Apefest attendee Chloe Ge told The Financial Times that the stage lights were “quite strong”, and that she stood close to the stage when a rapper performed. At around 3:AM, she explained that her eyes “were being burnt with spicy chilli”.
Bored Ape Yacht Club issued a statement on the morning of November 6, stating that “less than 1% of those attending and working the event had these symptoms”. More than 2,250 people attended Apefest.
Apes, we are aware of the eye-related issues that affected some of the attendees of ApeFest and have been proactively reaching out to individuals since yesterday to try and find the potential root causes. Based on our estimates, we believe that much less than 1% of those…— Bored Ape Yacht Club (@BoredApeYC) November 6, 2023
“Apes, we are aware of the eye-related issues that affected some of the attendees of ApeFest and have been proactively reaching out to individuals since yesterday to try and find the potential root causes,” they said.
“While nearly everyone has indicated their symptoms have improved, we encourage anybody who feels them to seek medical attention just in case.”
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter