If there’s one thing we at Opto-Réseau simply won’t compromise on, it’s eye health. That’s why the latest tattoo trend has us running for the hills. Eyeball tattoos, also known as scleral tattoos, are created by injecting coloured ink into the whites of a person’s eyes to permanently dye them a different colour. The dye isn’t injected into the tissue but rather between two layers of the eyeball, where it can spread across the surface.

Although scleral tattoos have existed for a number of years, they’ve recently gained traction in India, where famous tattoo artist Karan Sidhu had his eyes tattooed black. Optometrists the world over have since denounced the practice, which poses obvious health risks. Even the man who invented the practice acknowledges the high degree of risk involved and has encouraged a number of nations to ban it altogether.

As with any type of tattoo, the procedure is performed with fine needles and leaves the eyes swollen for 7 to 10 days. The ink is injected under the conjunctiva—the clear layer covering the sclera—without the use of local anesthesia. It goes without saying that the risk of infection, permanent vision loss, and even eye loss is significant.

A 24‑year‑old Canadian woman learned that the hard way, after having her right eye tattooed purple last September. The ink seems to have been injected too deeply into the eye. She now suffers from constant eye pain and her loss of sight is likely irreversible.

Since the procedure is relatively new, the long‑term effects aren’t known, but the experts are anything but optimistic. To be clear: letting an amateur get close to your eye with a needle is never a good idea!