Eyeball tattoos, a risky trend?

All you need to know about these tattoos


The experience of tattooing can be both exciting and excessive, as in scleral or eyeball tattoos.

Tattooing styles can be controversial, but body areas can also be the talk of the town. Some areas are more striking and dangerous than others.

Some people prefer to go further and use them as a higher modification level rather than just marking the skin.

Keep reading to learn more.

What are scleral tattoos?

Also known as eyeball tattoos, this sort of tattoo is made over the eye’s cornea and sclera.

The sclera is the white outer part, a strong and fibrous tissue covering the cornea that gets to the optic nerve of the eye.

This practice became popular a few years ago. “Pauly Unstoppable” was the first known case of eye modification, in 2007.

The artist used 40 injections of intense blue ink with antibiotics to prevent the eye from swelling.

Needless to say, the working team had already considered all the possible risks.

It’s said that the forerunner of this style was Luna Cobra, who today still specializes in making these kinds of body modifications.

This style is one of the most extreme body modifications, because of the high level of risks advised by health professionals.

How are eyeball tattoos made?

The inks are not the same as in conventional skin tattooing. Instead, they are water-based, and especially designed for this purpose.

The first scleral tattoos were made with a hand-poke technique, which was extremely dangerous. But, nowadays, there’s no need to make

multiple injections, just one incision with a special needle in a specific part of the eye is enough.

The ink is placed under the conjunctiva, to then spread and colour the sclerotic. The amount of ink must be accurately calculated. This is key, as an excess may result in irreversible damage to the person.

Are scleral tattoos irreversible?

Unlike traditional tattooing, they cannot be removed through any technique.

Once you have it, there’s no way back. So, the decision should be very carefully taken.

A wrong injection, an error in calculating the amount of ink, or an oversight in the technique or hygiene measures may lead to serious complications or even to the loss of vision.

What do experts think of this practice?

Again, the ophthalmological danger is too serious, that’s why health professionals are continuously doing research on these new practices, as well as warning about their potential complications.

At the same time, there’s a medical procedure to pigment and give back the cornea’s brightness. In this technique, a certified eye specialist injects medicine into the patient’s eye, almost in the same way as in eyeball tattoos.

This is called a cornea tattoo.

However, many doctors do not advise practising this technique, even when the professionals are certified and the studio has been approved for it.

What are the risks of eyeball tattoos?

  • Irritation or infection of the ocular globe. It’s usually temporary and, with medication, it goes away as time passes. Although, the damage could be permanent, and it could impair the eye's natural segregation of liquids and lubrication.

  • Temporary loss of sight or full blindness. If the incision is too deep or the amount of ink has been miscalculated, it could lead to a swelling prone to giving inner bleeding, and damage the eye tissues permanently.

  • Infections. Besides, other infections may occur due to undesired bacteria, leading to hard-to-treat inflammations.

These people almost lost their vision

Catt Gallinger

The model and influencer almost lost her eye after having it tattooed with her favourite colour, purple.

According to her, her boyfriend Eric Brown, who was the tattooist, did not follow the indications correctly. Instead of using a special ink, she believes that he used regular ink and pricked deeper than needed.

This produced irreversible damage and, sadly, her vision decreased.

Amber Luke’s case

Another unlucky case, although less dangerous than Catt’s.

With 98% of her body tattooed, she decided to get her eyes tattooed in blue, for which she went blind for weeks.

Although her case was reversible, the scare was too much and the most painful procedure she ever had.

Mace, a Jamaican musician

Alkaline is a dancehall musician who also suffered complications after having his eyes tattooed in black.

According to him, he did it because he wanted to, and he felt comfortable with the decision. That’s why Mace, the same style of musician, felt encouraged to do it too but ended up in ER after the needle went too deep into the eyeball.

Not everything goes wrong

However, there are also successful cases in which people had no more complications than just regular post-session pain.

People who devote themselves to extreme body modifications see this practice as normal and even consider doing it.

For instance, the renowned artist Michela Bottin discovered full self-confidence after having her eyes tattooed. According to her, our eyes are a window to the world and anything happening to us will be reflected through them. This annoyed her and made her feel uncomfortable.

But, everything changed with her eyes tattooed because now nobody notices whether she’s tired, sad… Everything is hidden, which gives more self-confidence to her.

She also recommends being completely sure of it, as there’s no way back.

She even says that many people look at her differently, and kids get scared too.

Then, eyeball tattoos, yes or no?

In this practice (more than in others) it’s essential to take all the precautions and be aware of the risks as well as the impossibility to reverse it.

In no way are eyeball tattoos similar to regular skin tattoos. The eyes are one of the most sensible parts of the body, so it’s important to take this seriously and be well-informed.

As mentioned before, if you consult an ophthalmologist, most probably they will try to talk you out of it because of the risks, despite the successful scenarios.

So, if you’re still thinking about it, think twice. Eyeball tattoos and the potential consequences are no joke.

What are your thoughts on this type of tattoo? Would you get one? Drop us a comment!