As a person who struggles to put in contact lenses, the phrase “eyeball tattoo” always makes me think of the eyeball torture scenes in A Clockwork Orange. People have different tastes in body modifications, though, and some people think tattooing their eyes sounds great. There are risks involved in getting any tattoo, but the risks of a failed eyeball tattoo are especially gruesome. One woman recently got a sclera tattoo, but now she might lose all sight in that eye, and she’s taken to the Internet to urge everybody else to make damn sure not to get an eyeball tattoo without doing a lot of research first.

Canadian model Cat Gallinger got a sclera tattoo three weeks ago. She had her tattoo artist boyfriend tattoo the white part of her eye purple. She said he had a portfolio and had done many sclera tattoos before, but her eye started to go wrong the very next day.

After the procedure, ink streamed from her eye as though she were crying purple tears. Then the eye started to swell. Gallinger said the pain was intense.

She could lose her sight in the eye, or even lose the eye entirely

Gallinger says she has been on painkillers, antibiotic drops, and steroid drops to try to fix the infection. She says doctors say the vision damage is likely permanent, and right now efforts are focused on keeping it from getting worse. She could lose her sight in that eye entirely.

Gallinger asserts the issue was a mistake on the part of the tattoo artist, who she was dating at the time. She says the problem was caused by his using undiluted ink, injecting too much, and using too large of a needle and not using more, smaller injection sites. Gallinger says her after-care was impeccable and she has no smoke or furry pets in the house that could cause a sclera tattoo to turn into a debilitating eye infection.

“I am NOT sharing this with you to cause trouble,” she wrote. “I am sharing this to warn you to research who you get your procedures by as well as how the procedure should be properly done.”

The tattoo artist says it’s her fault.

Tattoo artist Eric Brown says he did nothing wrong during the procedure. (Sclera tattoos are not actually legal Canada.)

Brown says Gallinger’s reaction must have happeend because she did not take proper after-care steps. He told CBC news that he told her to get more eye drops after the tattoo, but he says she did not.

Brown has sclera tattoos himself, and he says he had a similar reaction immediately after the tattoo, but then the swelling went away after he used eye drops. Brown says he’s done 20 sclera tattoos, and this is the second one to go badly. (The first went bad because cat dander got in the client’s eye. Brown says both failed tattoos were the clients’ fault.)

Gallinger says she did nothing wrong and took appropriate care of the tattoo. She says Brown’s technique was to blame.

Gallinger told CBC News she’s awaiting surgery, and doctors are concerned that the ink is hardening in her eye.  She says her doctors told her that if the ink hardens on her retina, they will have to remove the whole eye.

Gallinger’s reaction to the tattoo is extreme, and pretty much a worst-case scenario with sclera tattoo risks.

“I will never recommend anyone to do this,” Gallinger said. “It’s not worth the risks.”

What do you think of sclera tattoos? Let us know in the comments.

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(Image: Facebook / Catt Gallinger)