Eyeball tattooing, otherwise known as scleral tattooing, is a procedure that involves injecting ink into the sclera, or the white part of the eye, to change its color for aesthetic and cosmetic reasons. Although some people may be intrigued by the shocking appearance, it is critical to comprehend the serious dangers associated with scleral tattooing. Scleral tattooing puts the patient at great risk of infection, inflammation, and blindness, which is why the American Academy of Ophthalmology* has published warnings against this practice.
The Risks of Scleral Tattooing
Scleral tattooing carries a high risk of infection due to its proximity to sensitive tissues inside the eyeball. The sclera itself is particularly sensitive and delicate; therefore introducing a foreign material such as ink onto its surface runs the risk of causing inflammation or irritation. Moreover, scleral tattooing can lead to infections such as uveitis (inflammation in the middle layer of the eye), endophthalmitis (inflammation inside the eyeball), or keratitis (inflammation on the cornea). If any of these serious conditions arise, they may lead to permanent vision loss.
In addition to infections, scleral tattooing also increases the chances of developing glaucoma due to increased pressure on the eye caused by incorrect needle placement during the insertion of ink into the sclera. The pressure can cause permanent damage to optic nerve fibers which will consequently result in immeasurable vision loss.
The complications of scleral tattooing are severe and potentially life-altering. Injected ink can migrate to other parts of the eye, causing a variety of adverse effects. For example, it can spread to the iris, the colored part of the eye that controls how much light enters. When this happens, the color of the iris may change and impair vision. The ink can also spread to the retina, which is a light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye that helps form images and transmit them to the brain. If this occurs, it can cause blurred vision or even permanent vision loss in extreme cases.
Additionally, scleral tattooing can lead to a condition called anterior uveitis where inflammation occurs in front of the iris. This can cause pain and potential damage to other important structures within the eye such as its lens or cornea.
Lastly, scleral tattoos can get distorted if the patient decides to undergo laser surgery on their eyes later on in life because laser surgery could affect how the ink particles are held underneath the sclera. As a result, sclera tattoos may be moved from their original spot and become distorted.
No FDA Regulations or Standards on Eye Tattooing
Eye tattooing carries with it many potential health risks due to the lack of oversight from the FDA. Like all tattoo inks, the inks used in scleral tattoos are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, therefore, the ink used for this type of tattooing has not been tested for safety or effectiveness by the FDA.
Another concern is that no certification is required for eye tattoo artists. There is no formal training, and there are no standards or regulations they must follow, yet many complications can occur. For example, if the tattoo artist’s hand slips, or if the needle is inserted too far, a patient could end up with permanent damage. These artists most certainly have not studied ophthalmology, and protecting your vision is not likely their top concern. Moreover, a tattoo artist is not likely to provide medical guidance regarding aftercare and cleaning protocols to avoid infection or scarring. Both are highly likely due to the sensitivity of the eye area.
For these reasons, it is important for anyone considering this type of procedure to first consult with their doctor to assess any potential risks and make an informed decision before proceeding.
Eyeball tattooing is becoming more popular, but there are numerous dangers that should be considered before getting a scleral tattoo. Consider this recent article about a scleral tattooing procedure that went wrong, causing several adverse effects.
There is no question that scleral tattooing comes at a high price, including the risk of severe infections that could potentially lead to irreversible vision loss. It is highly recommended for individuals considering scleral tattoos to carefully weigh all of these dangers before proceeding. The best way to enhance the appearance of the eyes is through safe and proven methods such as makeup or contact lenses.
At Atlanta Vision Institute, we do not recommend scleral tattooing, but we do offer corrective eye surgery including Zeiss SMILE laser eye surgery, LASIK eye surgery, LaserOptix™, and Cataract surgery. If you’re interested in Atlanta LASIK eye surgery or other eye surgery procedures, contact the Atlanta Vision Institute to schedule an eye exam and discuss your options for vision correction. Our team of professionals can answer your questions about the cost of LASIK eye surgery in Georgia. You can reach Dr. Ashraf by calling (770) 800-5244 or filling out our online contact form.
*American Academy of Ophthalmology https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/eyeball-tattoos-are-even-worse-than-they-sound