Scleral tattooing is the process of injecting ink into the white part of the eyeball and it has become a growing sensation among body modification enthusiasts around the world. Unlike ordinary tattoo, tattoo pigment is injected between two layers of the sclera and it spreads throughout the surface of the eye. If done properly, it should not cloud over the iris or the pupil. However, there have been many incidents in the past several years. One of the most prominent instances of scleral tattooing gone wrong occurred in Toronto, Canada—with a young women developing an extreme infection that resulted in blindness as well as the loss of her eye. This case and others like it have caused many state and provincial governments to make laws against scleral tattooing—with many outlawing the practice all together.
The first recorded instanced of scleral tattooing occurred in 2007 on the Body Modification EZine. Tattoo artist Luna Cobra, also known as Howard Rollins, experimented his technique on three brave and consenting volunteers: Shannon Larratt, Joshua Matthew Rahn and Paul Mowery. Larrat conceived the idea after watching his wife get a small piece of platinum jewelry implanted into her eye by Dutch surgeon Gerrit R.J. Melles. Shannon believed that one could dye the whites of their eyes by injecting tattoo pigment between the sclera and conjunctiva layers. Once Shannon teamed up with Cobra and gather two more willing volunteers, they made their first two attempts at scleral tattooing. The first attempt, which involved covering a needle with ink and puncturing the eye, was unsuccessful. The second used a small syringe filled with blue ink and was deemed a success. In his report to BME, Shannon called the procedure itself “effectively painless because there aren’t nerve endings in the surface of the eye,” going on to explain that the aftereffects were minor pain, bruising and discomfort. However, he goes on to warn future attempts of scleral tattooing, stating the improper technique can result in blindness and that body mods should only trust trained professionals with the procedure.
Over ten years later, scleral tattooing may still be fairly uncommon, however it's definitely gained traction over the years. Several high profile public figures rock sclera tattoos, including UK artist Grace Neutral who was featured in her own tattoo series on Viceland. Many other women have invested in the procedure, each opting for a unique and statement making pigment. So far, we've seen red, pink, blue, purple, green and black—but we'll likely see many more variants in the coming years. Take a look at the gallery below to see 19 gorgeous examples of scleral tattooing on beautiful women—then let us know your thoughts on these stunning body mods and their unconventional ink in the comments section on Facebook.
Pretty in pink.
Green with envy.
Edgy yet elegant.
Stone cold fox.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Show your true colors.
Dancing with the devil.
Little miss trouble.
Drop dead sexy.
Get an eyeful of this.
Adorable in aquamarine.
What do you think of these stunning sclera tattoos? Would you tattoo your eyeballs? Share your thoughts, opinions and questions in the comments section on Facebook.