“CAN TRANSPLANT EYEBROWS.”

Ever since my friend Patrick sent me a (recent) article about eyeball tattooing (read more about eyeball tattooing in the BME encyclopedia), I’ve wanted to tattoo my eyes blue. My eyes are already blue, but I want the whole eye (as in what’s currently white) to be blue as well… I just have to find a tattoo artist with a steady hand and grow my balls a little bigger. I know it’s “safe”, but still, it kind of freaks me out.

In any case, while reading old newspapers I came across this story from the New York Press (co-published in The Washington Post on November 26, 1899). The title (above) is because the rest of the article was about early hair transplant methods (both eyelashes and eyebrows). Anyway, here’s the part about eyeball tattoos:

“French Eye Doctor Also Tattoos Your Eyes, if You Wish It.”

Those people who are dissatisfied with the color of their eyes can have them changed. A Frenchman in New York can tattoo your eyes to any shade you may desire, without pain or inconvenience.

It is in the Tenderloin [Note: this means "a city district notorious for vice and graft"] and in the lower ranks of the theatrical profession that the eye doctor derives the greater part of his clientele. One can get a lovely pair of brown eyes for the moderate outlay of $10, and, in addition, obtain a guarantee that the eyes will keep their color for at least two years.

The color of the eye, for the most part, is determined by the amount of pigment material in the iris. According to physiologists, the material is not known to serve any use, and it can be of any color or shade whatsoever.

All that the Frenchman does is to show the patient a chart and ask her to chose a color. The eye is made insensible to pain by a few drops of a 10 per cent. solution of cocaine. While the action of the cocaine is getting under way the eye artist fills with the desired pigment color a tiny hypodermic syringe, made especially. Then he introduces the delicate tattooing needle of the syringe through the cornea into the iris and presses gently upon the handle of the instrument. In a minute or two the iris is diffused with the desired tint and the little operation has been performed. Not even an expert could tell the difference between a tattooed eye and a natural one, after the prick made by the hypodermic needle has healed up, and the Frenchman promises that the tattooed eyes will keep their color for years.

I guess they were a lot more hardcore about their mods back in 1899. So… how long until this trend starts again? I don’t mind not being first (and in some ways, I’d rather not be!), but as soon as I work up the courage and find the right artist I’m going to do it.

Meh, Rachel has an eyeball implant, it can’t be any scarier than that?

12 thoughts on ““CAN TRANSPLANT EYEBROWS.”

  1. .. Wonder if that works on really dark eyes..? Mine are almost black and I’ve always dreamt of having blue eyes..

  2. Heh, I want my sclera and iris’ tattooed. It would be really fukkin’ awsome to get both the whites and the iris tattooed solid black so that my eyes were completely featureless. (It would be even neater if I could get cybernetic eyes that were chromed, but that’s not happening too soon.) If only I knew someone that could do it safely, and if only I could afford it… :(

  3. I thought the bme encyclopedia said it wouldn’t be safe to do it on a fully sighted eye?

    “When I asked her about tattooing the white of the eye, as well as tattooing healthy eyes, Heidi Lassiter replied,

    It would be possible to tattoo the white of the eye, the sclera. I would not do it on a sighted eye because any time you tattoo the surface of tissue, you risk infection. On a fully sighted eye, it would not be worth the risk to do something like that. What about a custom contact lens to accomplish [this]?

    So, apologize if this article had gotten you all excited thinking you can get yourself some wings tattooed off your iris! “

  4. That’s what modern doctors say, but there are mountains of medical articles from the past saying the opposite. I figured though that it would be irresponsible if I didn’t include that doctor’s comments.

  5. Tattooing the eye is certainly within the realm of possibility (the sclera at least) but the risk of globe rupture is what I’d worry about more than infection. The wall of the globe of the eye can be amazingly thin and while I’ve dug chunks of metal and even a few shards of wood out of eyes, I’d worry about puncturing the globe in a way such that left it unable to hold normal pressure. Rare but it would suck to become blind from a tattoo.

    Likewise, iris tinting seems crazy risky for similar reasons. That said, the risk could be mitigated by having the same guys that do lens transplants for cataract patients do the iris tinting. I doubt that much could be done for dark eyes though so colored contacts would remain the eye changing of choice even if somebody started doing iris tint.

  6. That sounds way awsome, would love to see it, and if I didnt have this thing about my eyes and sharp objects near them I would honestly think of getting this done. If you cant tell the difference between a tattooed iris and a non-tattoed one I can see the benifits to a tat over color changing contacts.

  7. I actually practice cosmetic dermatology. Not, I think that far affield from what’s practiced mod wise in shops and dark corners. The philosophy is the same, controlling one’s own appearance and body image. I professionally hide the wages of age, treat sun damaged skin, reduce scars and miscellaneous other things but I pierce and refer for tattoos and have a more than passing interest in surgical mods.

  8. I wouldn’t want to tattoo my eye whites.

    I think I’ll just order custom contact lenses to do the trick… though I’d so love to tattoo my eyes.

    I still want the eye implant though, that still intrigues me.

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