A 24-year-old lady, pet nutritionist Catt Gallinger, from Ottawa, Canada, says a botched eye tattoo procedure left her with blurry vision in her left eye and purple discharge coming out of it. Catt Gallinger, is using her own experience to make people to think twice and do their research before getting an eyeball tattoo.
Catt Gallinger said that she decided to get an eyeball tattoo so that she would “feel more at home in my body”, but never imagined it would end up costing her her sight. Soon after coloring the white of her left eyeball purple, the 24-year-old pet nutritionist noticed purple discharge oozing out of it. She went to the hospital, where doctors administered antibiotic drops and sent her home. Unfortunately, things got even worse after that. Her eye became swollen shut, and after doctors used steroids to alleviate her symptoms, the tattoo became congealed around her cornea, affecting her vision and causing severe discomfort.
The young woman recently told reporters that she has had to spend hundreds of dollars on prescriptions so far, and while the swelling and pain have subsided, her sight in the tattooed eye still isn’t as good as before. She claims that the coloring of the eyeball appears to be lighter than before, but that could be just the paint swirling around in the eyeball.
Doctors have told Gallinger that her eye has been permanently affected and have to “go completely or stay a blurry mess.” However, she remains hopeful that surgery will prevent her condition from becoming even worse, and maybe even repair the damage. She started posting photos and videos of herself during various stages of her condition, cautioning people to look into the tattoo artist’s work and reputation before undergoing the procedure.
“Just please be cautious who you get your mods from and do your research. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” she wrote on Facebook.
Speaking about her own case, Catt said that she believes complications were caused by “undiluted ink, over injection, not enough/smaller injections sights”. She also says that she did nothing wrong during the recovery period.
“There are multiple people who can attest that my aftercare was good and any other part of what I am saying,” Catt wrote. “I have been to the hospital three times, I had no furry pets to cause any dander, and I wash my hands every time I do anything with my eye, both before and afterwards.”
Despite ophthalmologists’ warnings regarding the dangers posed by sclera tattoos, a.k.a. eyeball tattoos, this form of body modification has become very popular in recent years.
The sclera is the actual white bit, and the conjunctiva is a thin, clear layer directly atop. In the body art community, there’s basically just one method of tattooing: injecting small volumes of dye into the space between the two layers, and allowing that ink to spread in patches. It only requires a few needle pricks—unlike a traditional tattoo, where the tip has to repeatedly pierce the skin. Technically it would be possible to do that to an eyeball, but you’d mostly end up with a lot of holes for the dye to leak out of. Sorry for that mental image.
Luna Cobra, the artist who first performed the injection method, has himself said that it’s not a safe thing to do. Eyes are oh-so-easily infected and damaged, and it’s often difficult or impossible to reverse the effects of such a procedure. And unlike skin tattoos, scleral ones are injected in an almost surgical way. If the artist’s hand slips and the needle goes too far, or the ink is too thick, or the amount of dye is too great, you could wind up with permanent damage almost immediately.
Most people with experience getting tattoos will tell you that you need to choose an artist carefully for anything you’d put into your skin permanently. You definitely need to choose wisely when you’re asking someone to stick a needle in your eyeball.
Photo: Catt Gallinger eyeball tattoo purple tears. Another scleral tattoo gone wrong
A surgeon would really be the safest bet, and there are actually medically-sanctioned eye tattoos out there in the world. Like any physical defect, people with congenital eye problems or damage can suffer not just from the thing itself, but from the stigma of having a visible scar. A corneal tattoo can’t repair vision, but it can dye discolored bits back to white. Ophthalmic surgeons do those kinds of operations sometimes to improve patients’ quality of life, though it’s not common.
Tattoo artists, on the other hand, have definitely not been trained to poke eyeballs with needles; there’s no certification for corneal tattooing. All you can really go on is their experience and reputation.