I’ve updated the eyeball tattoo FAQ today with lots and lots of new information, including some discussion of risks information that backs up doctor’s warnings that eyeball tattoos could lead to blindness. After meeting someone whose ink migrated into the inside of the eye, into the vitreous humor, and then after a year of floating around in their vision attached itself to the optic nerve, I collected more information on both this issue (which is probably rare) and on intraocular press and ocular hypertension (which is probably common). Short version of the story is that eye tattoos increase the pressure in the eye, which is connected to glaucoma and blindness, and this risk seems to get worse in time, so it’s possible that we may see the “perfect nightmare” of eye tattooing thanks to people not waiting and everyone wanting to jump on the boat and get it done too before the longterm risks were established… imagine if in fifteen to twenty years the incidence of blindness in those with eyeball tattoos is way higher than it should be. Not one bit of fun there.
Anyway, the FAQ is updated and has a fun animation of Pauly Unstoppable added to it for the version 1.1 title. As always, all new information has been highlighted in a red font so you can quickly find it and only read the new stuff if you’re already familiar. Here’s the link: Eyeball Tattoo FAQ – http://news.bme.com/2012/10/18/the-eyeball-tattoo-faq/
Brief excerpts from the updates:
There has been at least one case where over-injected ink has migrated through the sclera and into the vitreous humor. In the case where this happened the eye didn’t seem to want to easily accept the ink, and what did go in seemed not to spread as normal. The other eye was tattooed in the same session without any complications, but three days after the procedure the person had what they described as the worst headache of their life including blurry vision and extreme light sensitivity. Intraocular pressure was increased, and for the next year the person saw black specks in their vision as these ink particle floaters tumbled through their vision. These particles appear to have now migrated to the optic nerve, which is their current location. The optometrist that examined the eye believes that glaucoma are likely and expects some degree of vision impairment or even blindness. It is also possible in this case for alternate complications to have arisen, and perhaps most importantly it is essential to understand that while experience and skill can mitigate this risk, it can not be eliminated and it can happen even to the most experienced artists (but is much, much more likely to happen to those who don’t have years of experience working on hundreds of eyes). Finally, I again want to emphasize that if anything abnormal is observed during the procedure it should be immediately aborted.
…complications from the tattoo may lead to blindness in the future due to damage to the tissues of the eye and/or optic nerve. Beyond acute injury leading to blindness, the most likely types of blindness related to eye tattooing are believed to develop slowly, perhaps over several decades. It is also likely that eye tattoos amplify preexisting conditions, for example a familial predisposition toward eye diseases such as glaucoma, and that it will be difficult to determine the degree to which the eye tattoo is responsible for the vision loss.
At some point soon the FAQ will need a rewrite because it’s getting a little jumbled and there may be some repetition as well…
I also wanted to show three tattoos that have been done recently, all by different artists, that I like visually quite a lot. From top to bottom they are Purple Haze eyes done by Russ Foxx (done with an utter minimum of ink, which all other things being equal increases the safety level), , next a pair of cyan eyes with a magenta iris outline (this type of design should be treated with the utmost of care due to its proximity to the corneal limbus and iris/lens muscles, as discussed in the FAQ) by Max Yampolskiy, and on the bottom, a set of psychedelic rainbow eyes by Chance Davis.
By the way, I assume this goes without saying but I need to make clear that just because I post a picture doesn’t mean that I endorse or recommend the procedure or the people involved… The risks on this procedure are still being discovered, and they may be quite significant. As much as I love the way these looks, it makes me beyond uncomfortable seeing how many people are getting it done, and how many new practitioners are not just diving into the procedure, but diving right into the deep end. Please treat this procedure with the utmost of care. It has more potential to severely damage someone’s live than just about anything else out there.