Numerous attendees of ApeFest, an event centered around the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT, have reported experiencing eye problems and sunburns.
Just one day after the event, which ran in Hong Kong from Nov. 3-5, multiple participants posted on X that they had sought medical treatment after waking up in significant pain.
“Anyone else’s eyes burning from last night? Woke up at 3am with extreme pain and ended up in the ER,” one patron said. “I saw a couple reports but just trying to figure out if there was a common thread.”
The user, known on X as @Feld4014, also stated that he had experienced blurry vision and received a sunburn on both his face and neck.
Another attendee who goes by the moniker Crypto June likewise reported visiting the hospital after waking up with extreme pain in the eyes and said a doctor suggested that the issue could’ve been caused by ultraviolet (UV) lights.
“Doctor told me it was due to the UV from stage lights,” Crypto June wrote. “I go to festivals often but have never experienced this. I try to understand how it could happened, that almost 1000 people were made blind. It seems like the lamps where not safe, and come from AliExpress. Anyone an idea how this could happen?”
A third event participant even shared that he had been diagnosed with “photokeratisis” in both eyes, a condition caused by exposure to UV radiation.
“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,” the user @crypto_birb wrote. “Got diagnosed with ‘photokeratitis over both eyes, accident related’ with prescribed steroid eye drops and eye lubricants.”
The user also addressed the Bored Ape Yacht Club as well as Yuga Labs, a digital asset and blockchain technology company that ran the event and owns Bored Ape.
“No hate toward the organisers – I doubt it was on purpose and shit like that at times happens almost randomly. However, I’m planning to push until official statements by @BoredApeYC @yugalabs are released – for awareness purposes (literally my friends need medical help without realising they do). It’s not for me, it’s for them.”
A Yuga Labs spokesperson has since stated that the company is looking into the issue.
“We are aware of the situation and are taking it seriously,” the spokesperson said. “We are actively reaching out to and are in touch with those affected.”
The company also claimed that so far it had only talked with 15 people experiencing such issues, or less than one percent of attendees.
“We’re also pursuing multiple lines of inquiry to learn the root cause,” the spokesperson added. “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 Bored Ape Yacht Club also released a statement on X noting that it was aware of the reports.
“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,” the group said. “Based on our estimates, we believe that much less than 1% of those attending and working the event had these symptoms. While nearly everyone has indicated their symptoms have improved, we encourage anybody who feels them to seek medical attention just in case.”
At least one user argued that the lights used on the main stage may be to blame given that those complaining of eye issues had been “up close with us front stage.”
As noted by Cointelgraph, a similar incident took place in 2017 when the streetwear brand HypeBeast held an event in Hong Kong. After attendees began complaining of eye pain, it was determined that contractors hired by the event had installed powerful lights intended primarily for disinfecting surfaces.