By Korin Miller
She might go blind.
Tattooing the whites of your eyes sounds like a bad idea to most people. But now, one model is out to show people how terrible it really is.
Catt Gallinger has written several Facebook posts about her attempt to color the whites of her eyes purple—and how it went very wrong. Catt says in one post that the tattoo artist didn’t dilute the ink, injected too much of it in her eye, and didn’t do enough injection sites on her eye. All of this caused her eye to swell. The ink also started seeping out. (Catt shared one photo of herself crying lavender tears.)
Catt told The Sun that she knew immediately after she had the procedure that something was wrong. She went to the hospital, where she was prescribed steroid drops, but those made her eye swell up. The purple ink has also clumped around her cornea, she has blurry vision in that eye, and, as you can imagine, it’s really painful.
Catt told The Sun that she wanted to speak out about this to try to discourage other people from making the same mistake. And, if they really want to get the ink done, they should “look into not just the artist and their portfolio, but to talk to some of their clients, talk to other artists about them and get experiences beforehand.”
Doctors now say that she’ll either completely lose her vision in that eye or it will “stay a blurry mess,” she says. In her most recent Facebook update, Catt says that she’s on pain medication and there’s a lot of buildup around her cornea. “However, my eyesight is still holding so that’s good,” she adds. She’s also going to have eye surgery next week to remove excess ink from her eye.
The conjunctiva, a mucus membrane and external lining of the eye, contains delicate blood vessels that carry blood and nutrients to the surface of the eye and cornea, says Dr. Amy Zimmerman, an ophthalmologist with Katzen Eye Group. “It is not a canvas!” she says. “Injecting chemicals like tattoo ink are toxic and potentially blinding.”
Eye tattoos aren’t great for a variety of reasons, says Dr. Christopher Rapuano, chief of cornea service at Wills Eye Hospital. For starters, the tattoo industry isn’t well-regulated and there can be a variety of things in the pigments, he says. Your eye is also really sensitive, he points out, and it may not react as well to tattooing in your eyeball as it does with your skin. The simple act of tattooing your eye also puts you at risk of infection and inflammation, he says.
Steroid drops like Catt used can help if you have inflammation, but they also come with a risk of glaucoma and developing cataracts if you need to use them for a long period of time, Rapuano says. If you actually damage your eye tissue, there are very few options to replace it, Zimmerman says. You’re pretty much just left with a corneal transplant, which is a complex surgery that “rarely results in excellent vision, and you must live with lifelong risks of rejection of the transplanted tissue,” she says.
Bottom line: Eye tattoos are just a bad idea. “This is not a rose tattoo you can laser off ten years later, if you do not like it,” Zimmerman says. Rapuano agrees. “It’s too uncontrolled, the pigments are unregulated and, if anything doesn’t go as expected, it can significantly damage your vision, potentially for the long term,” he says. Seriously, take a hard pass on this one.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com