There are plenty of other an excellent ways to look badass that don’t indicate jeopardizing her eyesight.

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Things can quickly go very, very wrong with an eye tattoo. Photo credits: Rohl et al (2021) / American journal of Ophthalmology situation Reports.

How eye tattoos started

Tattooing is one of the oldest develops of arts in human being history. It’s to be done since at the very least the Neolithic and is current in several ancient cultures. But that’s no to speak tattooing hasn’t changed.

We now have accessibility to several varieties of experienced equipment, including some the hurt less or that don’t also use needles. Tattoos have actually become an ext intricate and elaborate than ever before, and also there’s constantly someone all set to go the extra distance to get a distinctive tattoo; yet sometimes, castle go as well far.


The first three eye tattoos were defined in 2007 in an post in Body alteration Ezine. All of them were brought out by a tattoo artist walking by the surname of Luna Cobra (Howard “Howie” Rollins), who experimented on ready volunteers.

Example the eye tattoo gone wrong. Picture credits: Brodie et al (2015) / Springer Nature.

Two steps were tested. The an initial one associated covering the needle through ink and also simply puncturing the eye. This an approach turned the end to be not successful (and already if your exploring tattoo artist deems puncturing your eye together ‘unsuccessful’, you should probably start asking part questions. The second procedure, in i m sorry the sclera (the component of the eye the surrounds the cornea) is injected with dye, worked.

The original article, i beg your pardon was written by one of the 3 volunteers, does cite the risks and possible complications (which incorporate blindness and eye loss) however goes on to say the in their certain case, there were no significant aftereffects.


“I really need to emphasize again that the procedure was extensively researched and done by world who were aware of the threats and possible complications and also that it should not be casually attempted. Currently that this experiment has actually been started, please wait for us to either cure or walk blind before trying it,” the short article mentions.

However, the “research” the writer mentions isn’t specifically scientific research. There’s no peer-reviewed file (that we might find in ~ least) that papers the procedure or describes how it have the right to be safely done — due to the fact that there’s no guarantee that it will certainly be safe.

Even so, according to Allure, Cobra went on come “safely” tattoo numerous eyeballs, and although that feels more comfortable v the procedure now, the recommends world get quality contacts and wear those rather of going for a genuine eye tattoo.

What’s in an eye tattoo

For the benefits of clarity, “eye tattoos” here refer to scleral tattoos. Corneal tattoos, i beg your pardon is the exercise of tattooing the cornea of the person eye (either because that aesthetic reasons adhering to an accident, or for the function of improving eyesight in some conditions) is a fully different procedure and we’re no talking around that here.

The an initial eye tattoos were actual motivated by Dune. In the epic book and also movie adaptation, the native inhabitants of the world Dune have fully blue eyes — including the sclera and also the iris.

A gif indigenous David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation the Dune. The earth natives have the right to have completely blue eyes.

To attain this coloration, the dye is injected not into the tissue, however rather in between two great of the eye, wherein it spreads. A single ink injection covers around a quarter of the eye, so numerous injections are needed to completely cover the whole eye surface. However once it’s injected, it can likewise cause chronic inflammation the the eye, and if it’s no injected precisely in the best place, the needle can additionally perforate the eye.

Putting any kind of needle right into your eye is a large ‘no-no’, specifically as the one doing the is no a medical practitioner. Add in the hazard of injecting a foreign substance right into your eye, and you finish up through a recipe for disaster. Cobra self admits that a many of civilization are gaining hurt since of unsafe eye tattoos, and although he’d favor to “continue the art,” he would certainly advocate a complete ban top top the procedure.

In fact, part places have actually banned it. Scleral tattooing is illegal in Oklahoma and also the Canadian districts of Ontario and also Saskatchewan. However, in many places, they fall under the same legislation as other tattoos.

Some of the difficulties that have the right to be linked with eye tattoos include:

Decreased vision or complete blindness;Retinal detachment;Infection indigenous the injection or ink;Ongoing inflammation the the eye;Sensitivity come light;Feeling favor something is in her eye, every the time;Loss that the entire eye.

Eye tattoo studies

Image credits: Duarte et al. (2017) / American journal of Ophthalmology case Reports.

In the medical literature, over there are couple of studies the look in ~ eye tattoos. The persons that do exist room generally case studies — and also they’re cases of once something’s gone wrong. For instance, a 2015 report notes that we don’t also know the long-term results of the procedure, and the short-lived ones can likewise be an extremely dangerous.

“Episcleral tattooing is lugged out by individuals with no clinical training,” the report concludes. “The short-lived complications reported so much include: headaches, significant photophobia, persistent foreign body sensation, and also migration of octopus staining. More serious short-term dangers such together infection, world penetration, and peri-ocular haemorrhage could occur.”

“For now we can only speculate regarding the permanent consequences, however these may encompass carcinogenic adjust or granulomatous inflammation. Us feel that the potential dangers of the procedure have to be communicated more widely to those body change practitioners undertaking it. This exercise could an outcome in more serious presentations to acute eye solutions in the future.”

Similar findings come from a 2017 study that documented two Mexican guys who, after ~ receiving eye tattoos, gift to the hospital v complications. The researchers’ conclusions were also stronger, calling because that a half on this procedure

“Eyeball tattoos space done by non-ophthalmic trained personnel, which boosts the danger of severe ocular symptom like world penetration and endophthalmitis,” the examine notes.

“Long-term effects on the eyes and also vision are uncertain, however in the worst case scenario can include the ns of vision or the eye. Regulation prohibiting the practice of these procedures are required, due to the fact that despite warnings that multiple health and wellness risks, an ext people are looking to obtain this procedure nowadays.”

A 2021 review of every existing instances in the medical literary works notes that although rare, the practice is still very dangerous. The review likewise cautions the there are possible long-term risks that may have actually not kicked in yet.

“One the the much more concerning consequences of scleral tattooing might be the masking of underlying ocular surface malignancy, despite this has actually not however been reported. We caution patients versus the exercise of scleral tattooing as result of the really real hazard of permanent blindness or loss of eye and also advise patient to seek clinical attention immediately for any type of adverse events.”

Why friend shouldn’t acquire an eye tattoo

If it’s no clear by now, let’s be clear: you shouldn’t acquire an eye tattoo since it’s dangerous. You’re essentially permitting an artist (tattoo artist, body change artist, everything you choose to speak to them) come poke a needle into your eye, number of times, and also inject dye.

The risk is very real. Every few months, there’s a story in the news about an eye tattoo gone wrong, and also when that goes wrong, it’s really wrong. If you desire to see just exactly how wrong, here’s a video of a patient whose eye had to be at some point surgically removed.

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There room plenty of safer ways to decorate your body. Having actually colored eyes have the right to be cool, however there are safe contact you deserve to wear — and you can take them the end anytime you’d like. Opting to dye her eye is as risky as it sounds, and also the damage can be an extremely real.