A model is at risk of losing her eyeball after an eye tattoo gone wrong, placing the dangerous procedure under heavy scrutiny.
The procedure, formally called a scleral pigmentation, usually stretches over a few days and involves using a small needle to inject diluted ink into the eye's top layer. The cosmetic body modification is currently unregulated.
Eye Tattoo Goes Horribly Wrong
Catt Gallinger, a 24-year-old model from Ontario, Canada, had the white of her right eye tattooed purple in September. The eye tattoo, however, went horribly wrong.
Gallinger's boyfriend at the time injected pure purple ink into her eye using a large needle, completing the procedure in 10 minutes instead of taking a few days. After a few hours, Gallinger found herself in pain as her eye started leaking the purple ink and became swollen, which Gallinger's boyfriend said was normal. He then dumped her.
Three months after the botched eye tattoo, the pain has not stopped for Gallinger. She has gone through numerous consultations, different kinds of medication, and even attempted surgeries, but nothing has fixed her eyeball. Her damaged eye remains swollen shut with blurred vision.
"My cornea is thinned out from lack of moisture because the lump [of ink] directly interferes with my lid closing properly," Gallinger said. She needs to use artificial tear drops once every 15 minutes to try to keep her cornea intact. If it ruptures, she will lose her eye.
Gallinger's doctors are also racing against time to save her damaged eye. If the ink solidifies, the eye will need to be removed.
"There have been a lot of times where I've thought, if I have to live like this for the rest of my life, I'd rather get [my eye] taken out," Gallinger said to Global News.
Will Eye Tattoos Be Banned?
The harrowing experience that Gallinger is now going through has put eye tattoos in the spotlight. The Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario have proposed to ban cosmetic eye modification.
"We would rather be leaders in legislation promoting eye safety and banning eye tattoos than leaders in how to deal with the complications associated with eye tattoos," said EPSO President Jordan Cheskes.
Ontario is the only province in Canada that is currently looking to issue a ban against eye tattoos, but Cheskes hopes that other provinces, and the rest of the world, will soon start considering the same thing.