Body modification practitioners have started to venture into new territory in recent years; the whites of the eye.
It’s called a sclera tattoo, and medical professionals, clients, and the self-proclaimed inventor of the practice warn that the body modification comes with the risk of blindness and even the loss of an eye.
It’s important to note for those that are unfamiliar, given that there are no photos depicting the procedure in this article, that sclera tattoos, while similar in form and function, are made in a way that’s much different than a traditional tattoo: a small syringe is filled with the desired pigment and injected into the whites of the eyes. If you’re feeling up to it, there’s a video of the process on Youtube (sans gloves). Heads up: it’s not for the squeamish.
The risks involved have caused the American Academy of Ophthalmology to urge against the practice.
"Putting any kind of needle on the eye is very dangerous," Philip Rizzuto, a spokesman for the academy, told USA Today. "We do that all the time, but we're trained for 12 to 18 years how to go about treating the eye."
They documented the case of a 24-year-man who had to have his eye removed after a sclera tattoo gone wrong.
More recently, a sclera tattoo left Catt Gallinger, 24, with blurred vision and ink dripping from her eye. Now she’s warning others about sclera tattoos.
"I would not recommend anyone to do this," Gallinger told USA Today. "I don't think it's worth the risk."
Australian body modification artist Luna Cobra, who claims to have invented the practice in 2007, has fine-tuned the procedure over the years, and notes the risk of it.
"I personally have not trained anyone else to do this procedure. I have appeared on various television and news segments though, and have inspired many copycats worldwide,"he wrote on his website.
"This is important to know because without the proper education, training, experience and guidance, these practitioners have caused vision impairments like blurred vision, spots or floaters, and even blindness."
What’s your stance on sclera tattoos? Should the government be stepping in to stop them, given the risks? Regardless, if you didn’t know much about them before, you’re now able to educate anyone that strolls into your shop thinking that you’ll be jackhammering their eyeball with a Curved Bugpin 11 Mag.