These days the topic of eyeball tattoo attracts more and more attention among both a wide audience of contemporary citizens and the minority of tattoo fans. While eyeball tattoo still remains cloaked in a number of myths and misperceptions, it is important to clearly understand what the procedure of eyeball tattooing looks like.
A human eye is exactly where all eyeball tattooing happens. Hence, first of all, let’s remind the eye structure from the course of biology we all learned as part of school program. Human eye is a very complex system with many structural elements in it. You can see it by looking at the picture below. Pay special attention at one specific layer, called cornea, because this part is involved during eyeball tattoo.
The cornea is a delicate yet very important part of the human eye. Its main purpose is to refract light. That is why it is transparent, and while being full of sensitive nerve endings, it has no blood vessels. During eyeball tattooing a doctor or a tattoo artist first dips a needle into a dye or ink and then inserts it into a cornea of the eye. Under the influence of ink, the color of eye cornea changes from transparent into a chosen shade. It was reported that up to 40 injections may be required to color the whole white of an eye. Sometimes a three-needle tool or even a syringe is used to deliver ink into an eyeball. Though, a tattoo machine with three-needle configuration is said to ensure better results. The healing period usually lasts about a week, during which one feels as if something got into his eye.
Among the color pigments, used for eyeball tattoo, are India ink, Chinese ink, metallic powders, organic dyes, etc. While there is no approved procedure for eyeball tattooing, there is no any recommended ink. Though, India ink is often mentioned as the safest one with long-lasting effect.
While eyeball tattoo still remains a marginal procedure, which is not that frequently performed, certain medical risks are always present. That is why before deciding on turning your eye red or blue, please think twice or thrice; remember, eye tattoo is not that easy to remove, if at all possible.
There is a golden rule in medicine, saying that the benefits of any treatment or medical procedure should outweigh its risks. Eyeball tattooing is a form of extreme body modification, which involves intervention into one’s eye. Thus, before rushing to a tattoo saloon, inspired by the idea to change the color of eyeballs, it won’t be too much to learn some basic information about the risks, associated with eyeball tattooing.
Eyeball or corneal tattooing is a procedure, when a particular dying agent or ink is injected or otherwise delivered under the top layer of an eye, called cornea. Cornea is a very delicate eye’s part with the thickness of about 0.5-0.6 mm in the center and 0.6-0.8 mm at the periphery.
About 90% of cornea consists of stroma, a middle layer containing mainly collagen fibers. Stroma is exactly the place, where ink is delivered during eyeball tattooing. In view of miniature structure of cornea and the fact that it is filled with nerve endings, certain medical risks are always present while performing eyeball tattooing. Furthermore, it should be noted that cornea plays a key role in human’s ability to see. Thus, damaging cornea may cause serious sight problems up to blindness.
Among the most common risks of eyeball tattooing are infection, perforation and hemorrhage. Cornea is a very thin layer and sometimes a needle can penetrate through it reaching the underlying layers of the eye. Furthermore, eyeball tattoo is about multiple (sometimes up to 40) pricks, which may cause an inflammatory reaction aside of being a pretty painful experience. In case of eye inflammation or keratitis, the injected dye may be attacked by the human immune system, making the results of eyeball tattoo unstable and short-lasting.
Other risks of eyeball tattooing include toxic reaction to ink, persistent defects of corneal epithelial layer, and even corneal erosion and ulceration. Generally speaking, the consequences of eyeball tattooing on healthy human eyes is not well researched and documented, since in medical practice this procedure is performed only on highly damaged eyes with impaired function.
Following the topic of eyeball tattoo risks, it is also necessary to note that certain dangers may be associated with the type of ink, used for tattooing. The general practice is using commercially available tattoo pigments, such as ferric oxide or hydroxide, iron oxide, carbon black, titanium dioxide and others. However, the problem is that the long-term safety of these chemicals, injected into human eyes, has not yet been well researched. Thus, a certain risk of allergic or toxic reaction is always present. Furthermore, tattoo inks contain harmful chemicals, such as chlorine, barium, and arsenic salts, which may also cause medical complications after eyeball tattooing.
Dr. Sandra Belmont, a New York Presbyterian Hospital ophthalmologist says: “I certainly recommend corneal tattooing in a patient with a corneal scar – but I do not recommend these procedures to be performed solely for the purpose of body adornment due to significant vision-threatening side effects”. The decision to do or not to do eyeball tattooing is surely a matter of personal choice. The key is that such decision should always be well-considered and reasonably motivated.
I don’t think getting my eyes tattooed is something I would ever do. I think it would freak too many people out. I will stick with just regular tatts. I think I am due for a new one actually. Time to head on over to my favortie tattoo website to checkout the Tattoo Me Now gallery. If you want access to hundreds, actually thousands, of amazing and beautiful tattoo design I highly recommend the site. Read my Tattoo Me Now review to learn what is included in their lifetime membership deal.
Ink to paper is thoughtful
Ink to flesh, hard-core.
If Shakespeare were a tattooist
We’d appreciate body art more.
To tattoo or not to tattoo – that is the question millions of people answered positively. For them getting a tattoo is a way to express themselves, a way to tell the world their personal story. Remember the words of Jack London – “Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past”?
Today, tattoo art explores a new part of human body, where tattoo artists could pour out all the creativity. That is the human eyeball. Yes, it sounds scary and bizarre to the highest degree. But have tattoo owners been ever afraid of pain or public denunciation?
The truth is that eyeball tattooing has, actually, two fields of application – medicine and body modification. The first one refers to situations when patients with damaged eyes undergo clinical eyeball tattoo to restore, at least partially, the cosmetic appearance of an eye. Several medical conditions can be treated as direct indications for performing eyeball tattooing. In most cases, this procedure is performed for cosmetic reasons just to mask the damage or trauma of the eye. Medical indications for cosmetic eyeball tattooing include:
- Corneal opacities (this is a condition, when eye cornea gets scarred and loses its transparency, which results in a complete or partial loss of sight);
- Eye damages, resulting from leucoma, keratitis, or cataracts;
- Physical trauma of an eye during a car accident, etc.
However, there are also indications to perform eyeball tattoo, when the procedure can help to improve or restore sight. Some doctors practice this method to help patients with albinism (no color pigment in skin and eyes), keratoconus (impaired shape of an eye cornea), aniridia (absence of the iris in the eyes), coloboma (a hole in one of the eye’s structures), and iridodialysis (separation of the iris).
Body modification is another field, where eyeball tattoo is practiced. Being a relatively novel type of body modification techniques, eyeball tattoo is used as part of extreme experimenting with altering a human body. In 2007 the community of body modification fans was thrilled with the experience of a Canadian man, who had his white eyeballs turned blue as the result of eyeball tattooing. There are also reports of two prisoners, who also gave their votes to eyeball tattoo as their own method to single out from the crowd.
BMEzine, a reputable online magazine of body medication community, published an article, describing the process of eyeball tattoo on a healthy eye. Though, they did warn all the readers on the potential risks of such procedure. Reading comments to the article, it becomes obvious that even for the most advanced body modifiers eyeball tattooing still remains a hardcore experience. By the way, Pauly Unstoppable, one of the pioneers of eyeball tattooing, again has his eyeballs white, based on the photos dated 2010… Did the blue pigment faded away over time or did the man have another eyeball tattoo, this time returning to a natural eyeball color, – this remains unknown…