It's not a great time to be a Bored Ape enthusiast, given that the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have plummeted in value by around 88 percent. So it's nice when they get the opportunity to meet up in real life to discuss their hobby. Unfortunately, at one such event in Hong Kong, several attendees reported suffering skin burns, eye pain, and vision loss after the event appeared to have used the wrong kind of UV lamp as a backlight.
"Anyone else’s eyes burning from last night?" one Bored Ape fan wrote on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) after Yuga Labs' three-day "ApeFest" ended on November 5. "Woke up at 3am with extreme pain and ended up in the ER."
"I woke up at 04:00 and couldn’t see anymore. Had so much pain and my whole skin is burned. Needed to go to the hospital," another responded. "The doctor told me the uv of the [lighting] of the stage did it. It has the same effect as sunlight. Still can not see normally.."
One attendee wrote that he had been diagnosed with photokeratitis, damage to corneal epithelial cells following unprotected exposure to UVB or UVC.
UV black lights are generally considered safe, with exposure to UVA from them being well below the recognized safe limits, leading some to speculate that the conference had instead used UVC germicidal lamps. People have become ill following exposure to germicidal lamps in the past, which are designed to kill bacteria and viruses, rather than look pretty. However, for now, it's unclear what kind of lamps the conference was using. According to the organizers, only a small number of those at the conference suffered injuries.
“We are actively reaching out and in touch with those affected to better understand the root cause,” Yuga Labs spokesperson Emily Kitts told The Verge. “Based on our estimates, the 15 people we’ve been in direct communication with so far represent less than one percent of the approximately 2,250 event attendees and staff at our Saturday night event.”
The company confirmed to Variety that guests reported suffering vision issues, eye pain, and skin irritation after attending the conference, adding that they are "distressed by these reports, as nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our community, many of whom we spent significant facetime with over the weekend.”
The spokesperson added that the company will continue to investigate the cause of the problems.