Although it might seem like a modern practice, evidence of eyeball tattoos dates as far back as the first century A.D. Scleral tattoos were documented as methods to eliminate unsightly scars on the iris. In 2007, body modification artist Luna Cobra innovated the eyeball tattoo procedure to make it less invasive. His procedure involves injecting pigments in between the sclera and conjunctiva. Traditional tattoos, in contrast, deposit the ink just below the upper layer.
The downside to Luna Cobra’s method is complex designs aren’t possible. Tattoo artists don’t have much control over the spread of the ink when it comes to eyeball tattoos. Thus, most eyeball tattoos are simply a color change of the white part of the eye. Eyeball tattoos may look cool and provide health benefits to some people, but they come with some serious health risks too.
Health Risks of Eyeball Tattoos
Injections of ink that are either too deep or too shallow come with significant risk. Over-injection also vastly increases health risks of eyeball tattoos. The right zone for eye tattooing is less than 1 mm thick. In the medical industry, traditional tattoo methods are still used for eye tattoos but they haven’t agreed upon a particular technique.
Blurred Vision or Blindness
Luna Cobra’s technique of injecting pigments between the sclera and conjunctiva can cause blurred vision if one isn’t careful. Blurred vision occurs when the ink spreads over the pupil. A person only needs a few injections to completely coat the white of the eye with ink. Something going wrong during the procedure can cause blindness in severe cases. It’s important to be aware of this possibility before going through with the body modification, whether for health or aesthetic reasons.
Recurrent Corneal Erosions
You may experience recurrent corneal erosions from the multiple lacerations in your eyes during tattooing. This painful eye disorder exposes sensitive corneal nerves due to loss of cells. It can cause temporary blindness in addition to ocular pain.
Can Cause Keratitis
Eyeball tattooing can cause keratitis if the ink escapes from the cornea. Keratitis is inflammation of the cornea. Possible symptoms of this eye problem include moderate to severe pain, red eye, a gritty sensation, impaired vision, and photophobia.
Some people are left with persistent pain when they get a scleral tattoo. The pain they experience is similar to a headache that never goes away. They also say it feels like there’s something caught in their eye. Those who suffer from constant pain after eyeball tattoos may experience sensitivity to light too.
It’s more difficult to find a job when you have an eye tattoo. People must also consider this disadvantage of getting an eyeball tattoo, whether it’s fair or not. Although workplaces have started to become more accepting of piercings and tattoos, it remains difficult to find a job when you have body modifications. For a body modification that’s not widespread like tattoos are, it’s even more challenging to find a job. People aren’t used to seeing eyeball tattoos, and there is no way for you to cover them up.
Corneal tattoos are usually not permanent; the ink will gradually fade. This results in a slightly different aesthetic appearance than you initially wanted. And if you’re unhappy with the fading, you will have to pay for the procedure again. Another potential problem is the size of the area tattooed may decrease over time.
Occasionally, a client isn’t happy with the finished result of their eye tattoo. It may not have turned out as they envisioned or they realized that they don’t actually like it after all. They will have to either have the procedure repeated to achieve the desired result or wait for the ink to hopefully fade.
You may face social stigma after getting an eyeball tattoo. This disadvantage is usually not a big concern for people who choose to modify their bodies for aesthetic purposes, but it’s still worth considering. Even if you are not that bothered by what others think of you, social stigma can make life more difficult. You may find yourself treated unfairly due to another’s prejudice against you.
Who Benefits from Them?
In some cases, corneal tattooing is beneficial for the eyes. It can improve eyesight when done correctly. Others choose to get a corneal tattoo to cover up unsightly marks on the eyes from disease or accidents. This can improve the individual’s self-confidence and satisfaction with their physical appearance.
Corneal tattoos can also be used to decrease circumstantial glare within the iris. People who suffer from corneal opacities, eye problems, often experience improvement in their symptoms after a corneal tattoo. A corneal opacity can negatively impact vision through scarring or clouding the cornea.
Corneal opacities are the fourth leading cause of blindness. They can be caused by eye injuries, diseases, and infections. Treating corneal opacities are actually one of the top reasons people get corneal tattoos. Most physicians, however, believe that one should only get a corneal tattoo if they have lost their vision or don’t expect their eyesight to recover. People who have iridodialysis, albinism, diffused nebulae of the cornea, aniridia, keratoconus, and coloboma often experience improvement in their eyesight.
Eyeball tattoos help you stand out in a world where piercings and tattoos have become more widespread. If you’re into science fiction or fantasy novels, then you can recreate the look of one of your favorite characters. Because the ink tends to fade, you can try different colors or styles too.
Eyeball tattoos have even been used for medical purposes to improve eyesight and cover up scars. However, the procedure comes with several risks that an individual should be aware of before going through with it. Eyeball tattooing can lead to blindness, persistent pain, infections, keratitis, blurred vision, and recurrent corneal erosions. These types of tattoos also make it difficult to find a job.
What do you think of eyeball tattoos? Are you still interested in getting one?