At least 15 visitors at Yuga Labs’ ApeFest, a celebration of the marvels of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, may have experienced serious eye injuries. Bloomberg reports that multiple people attending the NFT event in Hong Kong last weekend say they experienced vision problems, which they suspect stem from the event’s stage lighting. Some of the attendees claim doctors subsequently diagnosed them with photokeratitis (aka “welder’s eye”), caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays.
“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,” the user Crypto June posted on X (via Coin Telegraph). “Doctor told me it was due to the UV from stage lights.” User @docwagmi suspected that the “ape friends” reporting problems appeared to have been “up close with us front stage.”
Meanwhile, Adrian Zduńczyk wrote on X, “To all my friends who suffer now: go get your eyes checked. You’ve likely most literally got your eyes burnt with UV like I did, which requires medications, eye drops, eye protection, antibiotics and specialist care. Don’t ignore this health hazard. Without proper treatment, it may cause long lasting vision impairment and other serious damage.” Zduńczyk wrote that seeking medical attention quickly appears to have spared him long-term damage. “My vision was tested as close to perfect with no serious cornea damage, luckily.”
Yuga Labs briefly addressed the issue on X, saying it’s “aware of the eye-related issues that affected some of the attendees of ApeFest,” while claiming it’s “proactively reaching out to individuals since yesterday to try and find the potential root causes.” The company downplayed the number of people reporting issues, adding, “Based on our estimates, we believe that much less than 1% of those attending and working the event had these symptoms.” The NFT company advised attendees experiencing symptoms to “seek medical attention just in case.”
X users seemed none too pleased with Yuga Labs’ PR response:
From the PR team:
– Guys completely downplay it, make it look like a small number, eg… less than 1%
– Make it look like you’re actively helping and solving
– Try to ‘Find’ the ‘Potential’ root causes, even though we know exactly what it was
— Shad (@madladshad) November 6, 2023
The potentially dangerous incident echoes one in 2017 when attendees of a HypeBeast party reported eye damage. The event’s DJ later reported that the lighting contractor used Philips bulbs that emit UV-C, often used as a disinfectant.