Are Eyeball Tattoos Permanent?

Amongst all the different parts of your body that you can tattoo, tattooing your eye is now part of this list. This procedure is controversial in many ways, and a large majority of health professionals advise against it due to the risks involved.  

Eyeball tattoos are permanent and cannot be reversed. Only a few tattoo artists worldwide do this form of tattooing due to the risks associated with it. This process involves tattooing the sclera, the white part of the eye, and is sometimes referred to as scleral tattooing. 

Eyeball tattoos are not as common as other forms of tattoos, but tattoo lovers are often intrigued and wonder about this process. This procedure is irreversible, so if you are considering this, it is best to learn all you can about it before going ahead!

Are Eyeball Tattoos Permanent?

Yes, eyeball tattoos are permanent. These tattoos do not fade over time and will remain in your eye for a lifetime.

So, some of you probably have the same question I had when first learning about eyeball tattoos: “Skin tattoos are also considered permanent, but you can remove them, so surely you can do the same with eyeball tattoos?”

Can You Remove An Eyeball Tattoo?

A significant difference between skin tattoos and eyeball tattoos is that skin tattoos are removable, but eyeball tattoos are not.

As I’m sure you know, a relatively new tool has been developed that uses lasers to remove tattoos on the skin. This laser works by breaking up the ink or pigment under the skin and, over time, fades the tattoo. However, there is no way one can use this method to remove an eyeball tattoo because the laser will cause severe eye damage.

Using a laser machine to remove a tattoo on the sclera is an absolute no. If used on the eye, the laser could lead to some serious eye problems. Issues such as retinal detachment are a serious concern, so much so that even removing eyelid tattoos using a laser is done with serious precaution.

In order to remove an eyelid tattoo, interocular shields are placed under the eyelid and over the eye to protect the eye itself from the laser. Furthermore, the laser they use is very gentle compared to others, so the eyelid tattoo often does not fade entirely.

If removing an eyelid tattoo is a mission enough, then I’m sure you can tell by now, removing eyeball tattoos using laser or any other current technology is a no-go.  Therefore, eyeball tattoos have no way of being removed currently.

How Do Eyeball Tattoos Work?

Eyeball tattoos are seriously tricky and risky, so much so that most tattoo places refuse to do them due to the high likelihood of a mistake or adverse side effects. Tattoo artists need to perform these with utmost precision. Otherwise, there can be severe consequences.

As mentioned previously, eyeball tattoos are also called scleral tattoos. This name comes from the white of the eye, called the sclera, which is affected by the dye and will change color.  

The ink is injected underneath the top layer of the eye, and it then spreads over the sclera. A tattoo artist will inject the ink into various places around the eye to spread the ink and cover the entirety of the sclera.

Due to eye tattoos not forming part of traditional tattoos, there is no formal training for tattoo artists who wish to do this procedure. Overall, the high risk and lack of formal training led medical professionals to advise that eyeball tattoos should only happen when medically necessary.

A procedure known as corneal tattooing, which involves tattooing the eye’s cornea, is a medical procedure. This process’s purpose is to alter the appearance or coloring of someone’s eye after an accident or a disease. Some patients also have corneal tattooing to improve vision by decreasing glare.  

Corneal tattooing, unlike scleral tattoos, is not permanent and will fade as time goes by.

Is It Safe To Tattoo Your Eyeball?

Getting an eyeball tattoo is a very risky procedure and can have considerable side effects. It is definitely not considered safe.

Firstly, the tattooing of the eye is not a procedure that started many years ago, so the long-term effects of such a tattoo have not been thoroughly studied. This procedure is pretty new compared to skin tattoos, and with only a few individuals having this type of tattoo, studies cannot conclude how this could affect your eye long term.

What Risks Are Associated With An Eyeball Tattoo?

Aside from the unknown long-term effects, some immediate side effects of an eyeball tattoo have been identified.

One can experience symptoms ranging from mild eye irritation to severe and life-changing effects. Below you can find some of the side effects:

  • Retinal detachment
  • Bleeding of the eye
  • Infection of the eye
  • Blindness as a result of endophthalmites
  • Blindness as a result of perforation of the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sympathetic ophthalmia
  • Removal of the eye due to complications

The above list is incomplete, so as you can imagine, the list can go on. In fact, some states in the United States have banned eyeball tattoos altogether. States such as Oklahoma and Indiana have banned scleral tattoos, and these two states will probably be followed by others shortly.

Aside from the above side effects, this procedure is very complicated, and tattoo artists perform this with utmost care. However, mistakes can and have happened in the past. The needle needs to be placed at just the right angle and in a precise place; otherwise, the ink can go into the inside of the eye. The consequences of this mistake are unimaginable.

Conclusion

In conclusion, eyeball tattoos are irreversible and permanent. The current technology using lasers to remove tattoos would cause irreparable damage to the eye, and thus one cannot remove these tattoos.

Furthermore, these tattoos pose a significant risk to the eye, and severe side effects can lead to loss of vision or the eye entirely. It is not advisable to have an eyeball tattoo unless deemed medically necessary in which cause a corneal tattoo would be appropriate.

Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Design and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):

References

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