Dangerous Trends: Eyeball Tattoos



Catt Gallinger, a model from Ottawa, Canada, recently made the news, for all the wrong reasons.

The 24-year-old had her eyeball tattooed, known as Sclera Staining, and has suffered some very bad consequences. She is now warning everyone about the dangers via her facebook page:

What is Eyeball Tattooing?

Eyeball tattooing is the permanent colouring of the white of the eye, known as the sclera. It is performed by injecting ink with a needle underneath the top layer of the eye onto the sclera, in several locations, from where the ink then slowly spreads to cover all of the sclera. It is permanent, non-reversible, viewed as extremely dangerous and eye health professionals strongly advise against having the procedure.

What are the risks of Sclera Staining?

It is considered to be a very high-risk procedure, and should only be performed by a qualified doctor when medically indicated. For solely cosmetic purposes, it is viewed as extremely dangerous and unnecessary. Some of the risks include:

  • Perforation of the eye, which can lead to blindness. The sclera is less than 1mm thick.
  • Retinal detachment, which is an urgent medical condition that may leave the patient blind.
  • Endophthalmitis, an infection inside the eye, that can lead to blindness.
  • Sympathetic Ophthalmia, an autoimmune inflammatory response that affects both eyes and can result in blindness.
  • Transmission of blood borne viruses (for example Hepatitis B and C, and HIV) from unsterilised equipment.
  • Bleeding and infection at the injection sites.
  • Delayed diagnosis of medical conditions as the true colour of the sclera is now hidden i.e jaundice
  • Adverse reactions to the ink
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Staining of the surrounding tissue due to ink migration.

As this is a relatively new and experimental form of tattooing, the long term risks are not completely known. Many countries and territories are now in the process of banning the procedure, unless carried out by a Medical practitioner.

Cathedral Eye Clinic strongly discourages the procedure of Sclera Staining for cosmetic purposes. Where medically required, it must only be carried out by qualified doctors.

Next Steps

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