In ancient times, Roman surgeons would tint the eyes of elderly patients who had lost their vision to cataracts or other eye diseases. The resulting tint allowed their eyes to look natural again, even if it didn’t restore their sight. In the modern age, we have cures for many of the eye conditions that afflicted Romans. Of course, we still tattoo our eyes for cosmetic reasons. The modern technique is less risky for those who still have their vision, so it’s no wonder that the trend has taken off. Although I normally recommend tattoo ointment during aftercare, that obviously won’t work here! Even lidocaine spray won’t help you.
Nature of the Sclera
Humans, along with some domestic animals and chimps, have very unique sclera. The sclera is usually black in other animals, but in humans, it is white. Humans have always been social animals, so being able to see where others were looking was incredibly important. You can’t just shout if you see a mammoth standing nearby, after all. You relied on body language told through the eyes. Some domestic animals evolved similar traits. Dogs especially will even take cues from humans and follow their eye movement! That being said, our sclera is part of what makes us human. Due to the sensitivity of our eyes, I advise against using tattoo numbing cream during this procedure. It works for every other kind of tattoo, though!
When getting tattooed eyes, there seems to be two ways to go about it: using a natural, lighter color, or using black. Simply tinting the sclera can allow for some beautiful effects. Ink accents the natural color of your eyes, whatever that might be. You can still communicate non-verbally with your eyes, despite their tinted color. On the other hand, if you choose to tattoo your eyes black, it will appear as if you are a predator. Wolves, lions, bears—all of them have black sclera. This can be very alarming to people.
If you have dark irises, you will no longer be able to use your eyes to communicate, and you will frighten everyone you meet. It’s similar to wearing sunglasses for the rest of your life. While you might look cool, it will be hard for others to trust you when they can’t see where your eyes are pointed. Wearing brightly colored contacts or leaving a rim around your natural iris can offset this effect.
Risks of Tattooed Eyes
As you might expect, tattooing your eyes has huge risks. There’s a reason that the Romans only tinted the eyes of blind people—blindness is one of the main side effects! Not everyone goes blind, of course, but there are other adverse side effects. The concentration of the ink could travel or fade, leaving your eyes looking like a tie-dyed mess. If you’re an artist, make sure you have the best tattoo beds and tattoo artist stools so that you can get the perfect angle and depth with your tattoo gun.
If you get an infection or have an allergic reaction to the special ink that is used, you can say goodbye to your eyes. If you have a mild reaction, you’ll be stuck with an itchy feeling in your eyes for the rest of your life. Finally, tattooed eyes have a tendency to change in appearance drastically within weeks of receiving the tattoo. That could certainly be bad news!
Stay away from tattoo shops that have no experience tattooing eyes—even if they are otherwise reputed. For something as important as keeping your vision, it is worth it to travel miles or even hundreds of miles to find a specialist. They will tell you what looks best for your eyes, what kind of reactions you can expect, and detailed side effects. If you have any pre-existing eye conditions or medical doubts, be sure to mention them to both a doctor and your tattoo artist. They can guide you through the process safely or let you know if it’s not for you.
Tattooed eyes are an extreme form of body modification. Even among tattoos, they are something to behold. But, as time marches on, the procedure is becoming more safe. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to follow the rest of them here at InkDoneRight! Have a look at our other Galleries like the Under Boob one or the recently published Polynesian Tattoos. As always, thanks for reading!