After the murder of Josh Rahn, eyeball tattooing is once again the talk of the town. Not only is it rare to find someone with an eyeball tattoo, but it is also rare to find someone who has a lot of good things to say regarding this extreme kind of body modification.
But regardless of what anyone else says, there have been a number of people who have taken the risk to get their eyes inked. There are also some who travel around the world to look for tattoo studios offering cheaper eyeball tattooing. To know more about this extreme body art, read on below.
What is Eyeball Tattooing?
Eyeball tattooing, officially known as scleral tattooing, is a kind of body art that applies ink onto the eyes with the use of a needle. It is called scleral tattooing because the ink is applied in between the sclera (the white portion of the eye) and the conjunctiva (the thin layer covering the sclera). The space between the two is less than a millimeter, so a needle is used to inject the ink.
According to ophthalmologists, scleral tattooing is not a medical procedure. There is not even a doctor who has performed this kind of body modification save for Dr. Gerrit Melles, an eye surgeon who has performed an eye implant on Rachel Larratt. The procedure involved injecting a thin platinum jewelry in between the sclera and the conjunctiva which covers the sclera altogether.
History of Eyeball Tattooing
It has only been a decade age when eyeball tattooing was born. It was an idea of Shannon Larratt, the husband then of Rachel Larratt. His wife’s surgery gave him the inspiration to create a kind of body modification where instead of having the thin platinum jewelry inserted, the ink would be to change the color of the sclera. Because Shannon Larratt was no tattoo artist, he asked help from his friend, Luna Cobra, or known as Howard Rollins.
Howard Rollins is a tattoo artist and he was only convinced to proceed with Larratt’s idea after the latter gave two other volunteers to try the procedure. The two other volunteers were Joshua Rahn and Paul Mowery.
Before this procedure was made known to the public, Rollins and Larratt tried two procedures.
The needle that will be injected into the eye was covered with blue ink. The logic behind it was that when the needle reaches the space above the sclera, the ink will flow and scatter on the fluid of the eye. However, this did not work.
The injection was filled with blue dye that will be applied on the eye after the needle has penetrated the conjunctiva. As compared to the first procedure, this procedure was successful resulting in a blue-colored eye for Shannon Larratt. According to his blog, this procedure was also painless because “there aren’t nerve endings on the surface of the eye”.
News About Eyeball Tattooing
There is not a lot of good things to be said about eyeball tattooing ever since it was created. For one thing, it is dangerous and even doctors swear by it. If you try to look for news regarding this extreme body modification, you will see more things gone wrong than the advantages of getting one yourself.
In 2009, the Oklahoma Senate banned the act of scleral tattooing because it was deemed dangerous. It is now illegal all over the state.
In 2017, a Canadian model named Catt Galinger let her boyfriend dye her eye purple. She became the talk of the town for a terrible mistake that happened during the procedure. Instead of ending up with a purple eye, she instead had purple tears when the whole tattoo process had gone wrong.
Now, Catt is going through surgery and is at risk of getting her eyeball removed because her cornea could rupture anytime. When it does, the whole eye would have to be removed.
While more news are showing of damages done to the eye, there is no denying that extremists are still considering getting an eye tattoo. However, more states and countries are starting to decide on whether or not to ban this dangerous art form.
Dangers of Eyeball Tattoos
A lot has been said already about the dangers of getting an eyeball tattoo. But what are those dangers exactly? Here are some of them:
- Increased headaches
The chances of getting a headache are common. Pain on your forehead is attributed to the eyes and if you notice increased headaches after your eyeball tattoo, then it is most likely due to the procedure. However, after some time, your eye will start to get used to the ink inside it and the headaches will lessen. There are also pain relievers that can help ease the pain but doctors advise against drinking pain relievers often as your body will start getting used to the dosage. Once it gets used to it, you will need a higher dosage just to relieve you of another headache.
- Eye infection
Eye infection can be caused by two things in this procedure – the ink or the needle itself. In any procedure that involves needles, you always run the risk of getting infection especially when it is not sterilized. It also matters where the tattoo will be received because dirty surroundings have bacteria flying around.
Different people have different reactions to ink. If you don’t test how you would react to the ink to be used, then chances are that you might get an allergic reaction. Allergies, wherever they are in your body is dangerous. Some people react terribly when it comes to things they are allergic to. The stakes are higher when you get an allergic reaction in your eye. There might not be nerve endings in the eye, but an allergic reaction can lead to infection and damage to the other parts of your eye.
- Sensitivity to light
When you get an eye tattoo, your eye’s sensitivity to light increases because of the ink. At first, you think your eyes are just slow adjusting to the light, but over time, you will notice that it doesn’t get any better. Your eyes will tend to hurt even with the slightest change of lighting and this will lead to another headache.
Another terrible consequence is blindness. Although there are surgeries that can help heal your eye, there is no guarantee that you will recover from ruptured and damaged pupils, cornea, and sclera. Doctors warn against getting an eyeball tattoo because they are highly dangerous especially when the eye is sensitive to a lot of foreign materials. All the damage mentioned above might also lead to blindness when not healed properly.
- Blood infection
When not treated properly, the eye infection can go the bloodstream causing a blood infection. When the blood starts to get infected with bacteria, more complications will arise because blood flows all over your body and infected blood can damage your other internal organs.
With all the health risks involved, why do people still get eye tattoos?
Why People Get Eye Tattoos
Even if eyeball tattoos are dangerous and weird for most people, the reasons why others do this are similar to why people get inked in the first place. Here are some of those reasons.
- For sentimental reasons
A lot of people get inked for sentimental reasons. Whether it’s in memory of someone who passed away or of an event that changed the course of their life, people get tattoos for sentimental reasons. However, this might be a little different as compared to getting skin tattoos.
Eyeball tattoos can be sentimental in terms of color. Say, the color blue has always been an important color in your life. If it means so much to you, then you might consider getting a dye and having your eyeball colored with blue.
- For uniqueness
Skin tattoos are already becoming mainstream that tattoo enthusiasts are in search of something new or unique. The best way to stand out from the crowd as of late is to get a dye and put in your eye. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but people go to great lengths to be unique. It’s a form of individuality.
- For the excitement
For thrill seekers, the excitement of getting a different-colored eye makes them happy and giddy. Who has colored eyeballs after all, right? Just imagine if one thrill-seeker got a scleral tattoo. His group will probably be proud of the risk he took. This adds a lot of pride and confidence to the thrill seeker.
- For the pain
Similar to the excitement eye tattoos give, some people are interested to get an eye tattoo because of the pain. Believe it or not, there are people who feel better when they experience a certain level of pain. At the same time, they might have gotten into an addiction with ink (yes, it can be addicting too) that they also want to try a more extreme area which is the eyes.
- For oneness with your body
Similar to what model Catt Galinger said when asked why she got an eyeball tattoo, people consider getting inked on the eyes to feel one with their body. Even if you have science books explaining how your body functions, there are still a lot of things to discover within it. One of the ways to discovering what your body can do is to test its limits.
This is exactly what scleral tattooing does. By injecting ink into your eyes, it explores the possibility of modifying your body even the part where it has always been considered as static. With scleral tattoos, you get to be more at one with your body because this time, you know how it works and you have changed it to suit who you really are.
Things To Consider
Like any other tattoo, an eyeball tattoo is something you should think twice, even thrice, about. Take a few days or weeks to consider some of these things.
Even doctors swear by how risky this procedure is. It isn’t even a medical procedure, so there is definitely a lot of risk to face when getting an eyeball tattoo. There isn’t even any medical document for what to do when getting an eyeball tattoo. If you search the internet, most of what you will see are medical procedures for those who had their eyeball tattoo and had severe damage to their eyes.
Think about it carefully – is everything else worth the risk of getting an eyeball tattoo? Is the possibility of losing an eyeball worth the reasons why you are getting this tattoo in the first place? Ask yourself this a lot of times and don’t hurry by arriving at an answer. As much as possible, take your time thinking through getting an eyeball tattoo.
How much do you want it? And what are your reasons for wanting it? At the end of the day, it will all end up with how much you want it because a lot of people can tell you that this is dangerous but if you truly want it, there is no stopping you.
Another thing to think about are the reasons why you want to pursue this. Is it merely for body art? Is it for want of attention? If it’s the latter, maybe you can consider other things to get attention? Better yet, understand why you need attention so much. Wanting an eyeball tattoo might be just the surface effect of something else.
Once you’ve decided that you are willing to take the risk and it is what you really want, then ask yourself, “Am I ready to get an eyeball tattoo?” Wanting to get one is different from being ready to do it in much the same way that a lot of people want to get a tattoo and postpone getting one. Aside from being sure that you want it, you also have to be sure that you are ready for it. According to Shannon Larratt, it isn’t painful because there are no nerve endings in the eye. But more than just the pain, you have to be ready to say goodbye to white eyeballs once the procedure takes place.
Another thing to consider is the budget. What will make eyeball tattooing expensive are a combination of a lot of things – the artist’s skill, the tools needed, and the risk. Since this isn’t like your ordinary tattoo where the size and design matter, the dye may not cost as much. However, as the risk is higher, the tattoo artist may charge you more.
In fact, it went viral for a time that a Japanese man named Otomamay Haruki traveled to the Philippines because getting an eyeball tattoo was a lot more expensive in Canada. Although both procedures were successful, it was a big price to pay both literally and figuratively.
Lastly, you have to consider the expertise of your chosen eyeball tattoo artist. There are not a lot of artists who are willing to go through this procedure simply because there are a lot of risks. Nonetheless, if you want to get this kind of tattoo done, be ready to present a doctor’s clearance so that the tattoo artist is given proof that you are capable of getting an eyeball tattoo. This might help them get convinced of giving you ink on your eye.
What To Look For In Your Tattoo Artist
There may not be a lot of tattoo artists willing to give you an eyeball tattoo, but it is still important to know what to look for in these artists. Consider these factors:
Not a lot of artists are skilled at operating with the eye. In reality, they aren’t even trained to do so. However, some of the best tattoo artists can be persuaded to give an eyeball tattoo. So, make sure that you hire the best and most skilled one to minimize risks.
- Studio Location
As much as possible, go to a tattoo studio near you. If there isn’t any, then make sure that the tattoo artist is easy to reach. This is just a precaution especially if something goes wrong. At least, you have someone to consult or even sue if things go south.
- Studio Cleanliness
Another thing to look for is the cleanliness of the place. Whether you are getting a body tattoo or an eyeball tattoo, the cleanliness of the studio is a must. This will tell you if the needles to be used are safe and sterilized. A clean tattoo studio shows how much care a tattoo artist will give you.
- Customer Reviews
Most of the time, you will be asking friends and family regarding tattoo artists. This is highly recommended because you want to have someone tell you more about their experience getting a tattoo. You can also search online for customer reviews of your chosen tattoo artists.
In the end, there is no denying that eyeball tattooing is dangerous and frowned upon by doctors and tattoo artists alike. However, if you think that it is worth taking the risk, then be sure to pick the right tattoo artist who can give you a flawless procedure.