We have all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But how far would you go to protect those eyes so they stay healthy and beautiful?
You might slice an extra carrot into your salad, wear sunglasses in strong sunlight and ensure you get enough beauty sleep.
In China however a still practiced (though dwindling) ancient tradition for keeping the eyes in good condition is the shaving of the eyeballs!
Why Do People Have Their Eyeballs Shaved In China?
You might think the number one stop if you are having trouble with your eyes is the optician.
But opticians can be expensive and though China is constantly in the news for having a rapidly developing economy, over 170 million of its population still live below the poverty line.
With public health care hugely underfunded, the prevention, and
even cure, of eye trouble that eyeball shaving can provide for around RMB 5 (80 cents or 50 pence) renders it an offered service akin to hair cutting and beard shaving by a very small group of specialist barbers throughout the country.
How It Works
The process is very simple.
The barber’s blade is run across the surface of the eyeball before a small rod like instrument is placed beneath the upper then lower eyelids to scrape away dirt and bacteria, typically taking between two to five minutes.
China is a country which suffers from vast pollution.
It is very easy for dust and other sorts of micro debris to be blown into the eyes where they can linger and lead to health problems, for example meibomian gland dysfunction:
a blocking of the eyes’ natural moisture production which can cause swelling and painful irritation leading to blurred vision.
The shaving – or more accurately the cleansing – of the eyes under the eyelids with a blade keeps them protected when solutions we in the West would use such as eye drops are not easily available or affordable.
Having a blade run across your eyeballs and in behind your eyelids does not sound like health and safety compliant behaviour.
A simple and slight slip of the hands from the barber and irreparable damage to one’s sight could be caused.
But unsteady hands are not the most likely reason one could suffer because of an “eyeball shave”.
A more likely danger lies in cross-infection from blades used on others, despite being sanitised.
Given the eye is incredibly sensitive it is more prone to picking up bacteria from blades than more typical places where shaving instruments are applied in a barber shop such as
the scalp and the chin; and with far more dangerous consequences too.
With China supposedly set to dominate the world’s economy in the near future many people are becoming more familiar with the language and culture of the country.
Whilst we might pick up new habits and trends from the country as it grows in global influence, the jury is out on whether we will be following their advice on the tonsorial arts.
Kate Simmons is a freelance writer and journalist currently writing on behalf of a site selling shaving products including The Art of Shaving Silvertip Badger, straight razors, shaving sets and whatever you could possibly need for a great shave!