Crypto Bros Report Burning Eyes and Skin at Bored Ape Bacchanal

Crypto Bros Report Burning Eyes and Skin at Bored Ape Bacchanal

What began as a jovial conference celebrating crypto culture and flashy nonfungible tokens this weekend ended with multiple attendees in a hospital believing they were going blind.

Several people who attended this year’s “ApeFest” Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection event in Hong Kong reported waking up in the middle of the night with burning sensations in their eyes and fears of vision loss following one of the events. At least three attendees posting about their experiences on Twitter, now called X, claimed to have sought medical attention to treat their mysterious ailment.

“I woke up at 04:00 and couldn’t see anymore,” one of the attendees going by the handle @CryptoJune777 wrote. “Had so much pain and my whole skin is burned. Needed to go to the hospital.”

“Woke up at 3am with extreme pain and ended up in the ER,” another person added. 


Though the exact cause of the eye issues remains unclear, attendees speculated it could have something to do with particularly bright flashing lights emanating from the conference stage. One attendee who claims to have sought medical attention cited a doctor who claimed powerful UV lighting could have been the culprit for his burning eyes. Another victim who visited a doctor claims they were diagnosed with photokeratitis—also known as “welder’s flash”—and was prescribed steroid eye drops.


As its colloquial name suggests, photokeratitis often occurs following a sudden exposure to ultraviolet radiation, either from the sun or manmade light sources. The condition can occur due to strong light reflecting off of snow (A.K.A, “snow blindness”) or from people staring at the sun for too long. Photokeratitis is often compared to a sunburn but for your eyes. Symptoms often include pain, redness, headache, sensitivity to bright light, or in extreme cases, temporary vision loss.

Photos and videos taken by attendees of the event appear to show the conference stage pulsating with bright, neon lights. Gizmodo could not independently confirm these photos or whether not the lights shown here would be strong enough to cause damage.


Yuga Labs, the company behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club and the event told Gizmodo they were aware of the reports and said they were “actively reaching out to and are in touch with those affected,” and are “pursuing multiple investigative lines of inquiry to learn the true root cause.” The spokesperson claimed they had spoken to 15 people so far, which they estimate amounted to around 1% of the 2,250 event attendees and staff who attended the event on Saturday.

The ApFest NFT collection event was held in Hong Kong between Nov 3-6. A similar issue reportedly occurred in Hong Kong back in 2017 when a handful of partygoers attending a pop-up event between Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama and streetwear brand Hypebeast reported experiencing extreme eye pain late in the evening. In that case, victims said they experienced burning sensations, similar to the feeling of having sand stuck in your eyes, following a DJ set markers by bright pink and blue flashing lights.

“I essentially thought it was my allergies but I’ve never had allergies this bad and this intense,” James Acey, a DJ who attended the 2017 event said in an interview with The Hong Kong Free Press. “So I’m struggling for the next twelve hours, thinking and feeling that I might be going blind.”

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