Amber, aged 24, described the experience in a Truly (a Youtube reality channel-based channel). She said it felt like “[the tattooist] grabbed 10 pieces of glass and rubbed that in my eye.” Amber also claimed that the procedure was done incorrectly, which led to her being blind for three weeks.
The procedure is called a “sclera tattoo”. The procedure involves injecting ink beneath the conjunctiva (the transparent tissue that covers the white part) and above the sclera. Luna Cobra and Shannon Larratt were body modification experts who came up with this idea. Larratt, a writer who founded BMEzine the first body modification magazine, gave his support to the experiment along with two other subjects. It took approximately two years for the process to be perfected.
Cobra doesn’t recommend the procedure to color-blind hopefuls despite having a lot experience with it. Cobra explained to Allure why he was reluctant to undergo the procedure.
“To be honest, every person that contacts me about eyeball tattoos gets the same letter back,” said Cobra. “I explain they really should invest in quality contacts and wear those for a long time.”
Cobra tattooed enough eyes for safe results, but that doesn’t necessarily mean every artist is taking the same precautions. Catt Gallinger, a Canadian model and actress, experienced exactly this five years back. Undiluted ink was used by an inexperienced artist, which caused severe swelling and blurry vision. She visited the hospital several times and received multiple medications. To avoid blindness, she needed eye surgery.
Her sight is good, but there are still irreparable injuries. She provided an update about her eye’s condition three years ago, which was her first post.
“I have issues to this very day. Less vision, unable to see out of that eye if its [sic] sunny out due to pain, random swelling, ink in my eyelids from it spreading through the bloodstream, itchiness,” said Gallinger.
Her viral post raised a lot more awareness. It is possible that it indirectly inspired legislation. This includes laws banning the procedure in states such Oklahoma, Indiana, and Washington. It is also prohibited by some Canadian provinces.
It’s funny to note that the process was inspired in part by Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series. Due to their exposure to the drug “melange,” the blue eyes of native Fremen of Arrakis are due to this exposure. Andrea Tooley MD, a clinical spokesperson for American Academy of Ophthalmology, has more details. Byrdie, a beauty publication, said that there are safer and better alternatives.
“I cannot stress this enough: Be kind to yourself and skip the eye tattoo,” said Tooley. “There are safe, medically-assisted alternatives, including FDA-approved contact lenses.”