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.