Warning: This entry documents a highly experimental procedure that should not be emulated. Follow-up entries will document healing and complications — which to be very clear for those considering this, can in theory include permanent blindness!
Yesterday, just after BMEfest and just before ModProm, we did the rather stress-inducing experiment of doing the first three “eyeball tattooing” experiments on sighted eyes. The procedures were done by Howie (LunaCobra.net), with photos by Lane Jensen (of Tattoo and Piercing Magazine). The first procedure was done on Pauly Unstoppable using a traditional hand-poked technique. The eye distorted significantly but it was difficult to get ink to hold. Probably about forty strikes in all were done but so far it seems like limited ink held.
Because the we had trouble getting the ink under the surface (and were able to “wash” it out of the small needle incisions), we tried the second procedure, on Josh using a 29ga needle and syringe, thinning down the ink very slightly with an antibiotic eyewash. Since the goal was simply to blanket the white of the eye in color, there wasn’t a need for fine detail. The first injection was shallow and appeared to dissipate on the surface, but the second injection was at the perfect level and formed a dark bubble of ink just over the sclera (in the third picture you can see some of the ink running back out of the injection hole).
Finally, we did my eye, using the injection method as well although this time with a 28ga needle. It is extremely difficult to precisely get the needle into the right layer. In my case the first one appears to be slightly shallow, with the second injection potentially entering the sclera itself (so basically there’s a bubble of ink in too deep a layer, although it appears to be surfacing).
The procedures themselves were effectively painless because there aren’t nerve endings in the surface of the eye, and we did additional control with lidocaine drops which numbed the lids. After pain is fairly minor, although we all have bruising and some discomfort. I have what appears to almost be blistering between the sclera and conjunctiva which is worrying me a little but so far I don’t have reason to believe this is abnormal. Aftercare, at least in my case, is antibiotic drops and a patch.
In any case, we’ll keep you updated!
I really have to emphasize again that the procedure was extensively researched and done by people who were aware of the risks and possible complications and that it should not be casually attempted. Now that this experiment has been started, please wait for us to either heal or go blind before trying it!
Edit: Since a few folks have asked “what are they supposed to be”, let me answer: they’re not supposed to look like anything. They’re experiments to see how to apply the ink and how it heals. In my case the goal is to eventually fully fill in the white of the eye with blue.