According to organizers, more than 20 people have lodged complaints of eye irritation and vision issues after attending a party for NFT owners in Hong Kong last weekend.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
The gathering was part of ApeFest, a three-day event arranged by the Bored Ape Yacht Club, a community of cryptocurrency enthusiasts who possess unique digital images of primates worth thousands of dollars.
Louise Conroy, spokesperson for Yuga Labs, the parent company of Bored Ape Yacht Club, stated that they are in contact with the 22 individuals who experienced eye problems after the event.
“We are deeply concerned about these reports,” commented Ms. Conroy during an interview, adding that Yuga Labs is collaborating with an independent firm to investigate the claims. “Irrespective of the investigation’s findings, we are committed to taking appropriate actions for the welfare of our community members.”
Although the exact cause of the symptoms has not yet been determined, one of the potential culprits being investigated is fluorescent paint in one of the setup areas, as well as UV light exposure.
Approximately 2,500 crypto enthusiasts attended the event at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on Saturday night for an evening of drinks, music, and socializing, which concluded shortly after 11 p.m.
Adrian Zdunzik, a 30-year-old cryptocurrency trader residing in Portugal, described waking up at around 4:30 a.m. the next morning with an intense, burning sensation in his eyes that persisted even after multiple rinses with water. “It felt as if my eyes were being microwaved,” he stated on Tuesday.
During the weekend, Zdunzik came across social media posts from others reporting similar symptoms: severe eye pain, vision problems, and skin irritation resembling sunburn. Another attendee, Chloe Gay, mentioned feeling like her eyes were “burning from spicy peppers” at 3 a.m. on Sunday.
Dr. Will Flannery, an ophthalmologist based in Portland, Oregon, believes that the symptoms described on social media point to a “classic case” of photokeratitis, which refers to corneal damage caused by UV light exposure.
According to Dr. Flannery, this condition is similar to “snow blindness” experienced by skiers when exposed to UV light reflected from snow. Although the condition is severe, it typically resolves within 24 to 72 hours without causing permanent blindness.
“This pain is unbearable,” he emphasized. “It’s a level 10 pain. However, it will not result in blindness.”
It is unclear where attendees may have been exposed to UV light. Images and videos from the event show a stage with a DJ booth illuminated by neon purple lights that were directed towards the crowd. In another room, tubular lights on the ceiling shone on several decorative toilets where attendees paused to take photos.
Zdunzik was diagnosed with photokeratitis at an eye clinic in Hong Kong on Monday. He received lubricating eye drops, and his symptoms have significantly improved since then.
Nevertheless, Zdunzik feels let down by the experience. He disclosed that he paid around $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency for the Bored Ape NFT, which also granted him membership in a prominent community of crypto enthusiasts. Although he has exchanged emails with Yuga Labs representatives regarding his issue, he believes the company has not treated the matter seriously. “It would have been preferable if this had not happened,” he expressed.
Bored Ape Yacht Club is one of the most renowned collections of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. Each member used cryptocurrency to acquire one of the 10,000 unique digital assets, in this case, cartoon images of apes with accessories like cigars.
Bored Ape Yacht Club gained widespread recognition during the digital artwork frenzy that surged in popularity in 2021, partially due to celebrity endorsements. In January 2022, Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton exhibited their Bored Ape NFT on “The Tonight Show.” “We’re both apes,” Mr. Fallon remarked while presenting a cartoon monkey wearing heart-shaped sunglasses. “I love it.”
Since then, the cryptocurrency and NFT market has significantly cooled down. According to CoinDesk, an online publication focused on digital currencies, the price of the least expensive Bored Apes plummeted to over $50,000 in July. Just a year ago, the cheapest Bored Apes were selling for over $400,000. Mr. Fallon and Ms. Hilton were later named in a class-action lawsuit that accused Yuga Labs of colluding with celebrities to defraud investors.
Nonetheless, the Bored Ape Yacht Club aims to uplift its members’ spirits through its annual convention, ApeFest. The inaugural event took place in New York in 2021, while the second event, also held in New York, featured a performance by Lil Wayne.
This year, ApeFest relocated to Hong Kong to captivate the international crypto community. Owners of the Bored Ape NFT were granted free entry, while plus-ones were required to pay $269.
The event’s official website promised “three days of meets and mayhem”, followed by “a big night full of surprises”.