Washington State Lawmakers Consider Banning Eyeball Tattoos Feb 22, 2019 4:49:05 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Feb 22, 2019 4:49:05 GMT -5
Washington State Lawmakers Consider Banning Eyeball Tattoos
Lawmakers in Washington state are looking to ban the rare practice of eyeball tattoos because of the potential damage to sight. Known as scleral tattoos, because they scratch or dye the white outer layer of the eyeball, problems arising therefrom can be significant. Recently, Catt Gallinger, a Canadian model, lost the sight in her right eye following such a tattoo.
“There’s a real high risk of damaging your eyesight and your eye,” Democratic Rep. Steve Tharinge, the bill’s sponsor. said. “The optometrists and ophthalmologists are very concerned about this going on and people taking risks they shouldn’t with their eyesight.” Optometrists first reached out to state lawmakers concerning the legislation, he added.
The bill would outright ban the practice and provide penalties of up to $10,000 for those who are caught performing a scleral tattoo.
“The strict definition of tattooing is the introduction of pigment to the surface of the skin,” explained James Hillary, a Seattle-based tattoo artist. “But [scleral tattooing], from what I understand, is an injection of pigment using a hypodermic syringe. So it’s actually using medical devices to inject pigment into the white of the eyeball.”
According to Philip Rizzuto, spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, two states, Indiana and Oklahoma, already forbid the practice. Walking into a tattoo parlor and having someone needle-inject ink into the whites of your eyes is a bad one, he said, and even the man who invented the procedure agrees.
In the case of Catt Gallinger (above), the purple ink built up in her eye, resulting in blurred vision and severe pain. “I would not recommend anyone to do this,” she said. “I don’t think it’s worth the risk.”
Like a tattoo on one’s arm or hand, sclera tattoos involve placing ink within the skin, added Rizzuto. The ink is injected into a very thin layer of skin called the conjunctiva, which covers the whites of one’s eyes. The result is the whites change color and it’s as permanent as any other tattoo. The danger, he continued, lies in the inexperience of the hand holding the needle. “Putting any kind of needle on the eye is very dangerous,” he warned. “We do that all the time, but we’re trained for 12 to 18 years how to go about treating the eye.”
Sources: Louis Casiano, Fox News, February 22, 2019, and Sean Rossman, USA Today, September 29, 2017.