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This Extreme Tattoo Trend Might Hurt Your Eyes In More Ways Than One

Eyeball tattoos

Photo: @kyliebearpiercing

If you’ve just returned from Ripley’s Believe It or Not or closed the book on a recent Guiness Book of World Records, you’re probably feeling like you’ve just about seen it all. Trust us, you haven’t.

Something new and extreme is at its peak. The newest wave of body modification is eyeball tattooing, which inks people’s sclera, otherwise known as the white area around the iris. The Daily Telegraph reports that hundreds of people worldwide, including Aussies, are undertaking this highly dangerous practice that medical professionals are calling “experimental, extreme and potentially carcinogenic”.

The irreversible process includes injecting ink directly into the eyeball, which then sees the ink spread under the eyes top layer, conjunctiva, to colour the whites of the eye. According to US-born body modification expert and tattooist Luna Cobra, the man who pioneered the procedure and splits him time between Melbourne and San Francisco, the practice is pretty much painless. 


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WA-based 30-year-old Kylie Garth, who got her eyeballs died blue by Luna over a year ago, agreed that the process doesn’t hurt, but admits that the concept initially scared her. “There’s always that little element of fear so I was a bit scared,” she told The Daily Telegraph. “I knew that it wasn’t painful but still, when you’re lying in a chair and there’s a needle coming for your eye there’s always going to be that moment where you’re like ‘f***.”

Emotionally, it took its toll on Kylie too. “It’s the strangest thing, I felt some pressure, like a little bit of sand in my eye and then it was done. I stood up and burst in to tears afterwards because it was mentally so intense. It’s like skydiving or bungee jumping — you know it’s safe but still actually doing it is crazy. It was scarier than skydiving actually — I would go skydiving again before I had my eye done.”

While Kylie and Luna insist that it doesn’t hurt, Luke Arundel, Senior Optometrist at Optometry Australia tells The Daily Telegraph that the risks are what will inevitably cause the most grief. “The practice can put people at risk of pain, infection, inflammation and blindness,” he said, explaining that the purely cosmetic procedure has been banned in some American states and overseas countries because of it.

“The procedure is not the same as conventional tattooing and because it is relatively new, there is no guarantee that cases which are currently ‘OK’ will not develop longer term complications. Eye surgeons have speculated that longer term problems may include granulomatous inflammation and carcinogenic changes,” he continued.

Luna has been honing his technique for almost 10 years on around 100 eyeballs, 20 in Australia, but is worried about people who are either “doing it themselves” or “just getting anyone to do it”. While he stresses that none of his clients have been hurt, gone blind or lost eyes, he does know of cases where this has happened. 

[Via The Daily Telegraph]