Why You Should Never Get Your Eyeballs Tattooed

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 11, 2020
    Last Updated: January 3, 2021

Eyeball tattoos, also known as sclera tattoos, are among the most dangerous and least beneficial tattoos people can get. It involves tattooing the white portion of the eye, the sclera. Though they can be visually striking, the risks far outweigh the benefits, so it’s heavily recommended that people never, ever, get them.

A Comprehensive Look at Eyeball Tattoos

Most people tend to recoil at even the thought of an eyeball tattoo. However, if you’re considering one, make sure you’re fully informed. Here’s a closer look at why these types of tattoos are a bad idea. 

Who Invented the Eyeball Tattoo?

Famous body modification artists Luna Cobra and Shannon Larratt seemingly started the trend of dying the eyeball’s sclera with tattoo ink. The colors typically used could vary, leading to some exciting and unique appearances. 

While Cobra recommends that people think critically about if they want a sclera tattoo for aesthetic’s sake, there are more significant issues at hand. Even Cobra suggests that only a medically licensed professional should tattoo eyeballs, which is good because no medical professional in their right mind should ever consider performing an eyeball tattoo surgery.

How Doctors Feel About Eyeball Tattoos

The medical community almost universally rejects sclera tattoos. The process is dangerous, with little to no research having been conducted about eyeball tattoos. Probably because when people consider getting a tattoo, the first place they think of is not the sclera of their eyeball.

Though eyeball tattoo surgeries are not performed regularly, many areas have already enacted bans. At least three states, along with some parts of Canada, prohibit eyeball tattoos. While there are no concrete studies or existing evidence related to sclera tattoos, common sense alone indicates the potential risks. A non-medical professional sticking a foreign substance (ink and a needle) into the eye is a situation fraught with hazards.

Plus, if someone has an eyeball tattoo, the injected ink can cover up other potential eye problems. An eye doctor wouldn’t be able to see through the dyed ink, which could lead to undiagnosed eye problems, including the potential for complete visual impairment. It makes ophthalmologists a bit sad to have to discuss it, but they also have a resounding “no” when asked if people should get their eyeballs tattooed.

The Dangers of Eyeball Tattoos

Eyeball tattoos, though visually striking, are more trouble than they’re worth. Any number of issues could go wrong during the procedure, considering someone performs it who has no medical training. It goes without saying that there’s a risk of eye irritation during and after the procedure, but what makes it even more concerning is the irritation may never fade entirely.

Injecting ink into the sclera can lead to eye health problems immediately following the surgery or some time afterward. Besides covering other potential eye problems or causing irritation, eyeball tattoos pose a plethora of other risks, some irreparable, including:

  • Infection
  • Vision loss or total blindness
  • Eye loss
  • Light sensitivity
  • Detached retinas

Even if the procedure was done correctly these problems could still arise. It’s best to avoid sclera tattoos entirely to make sure these medical issues don’t happen due to ink being injected into the eye.

Real Stories from People with Eyeball Tattoos

If the thought of losing their eye isn’t enough to deter people from getting an eyeball tattoo, there are other real-life stories from those who have gotten successful sclera tattoos that still encountered health problems.

A young woman named Catt Gallinger got an eyeball tattoo in Ottowa, Canada in 2017. She got a violet ink tattooed into her sclera, but the ink built up in her eye, leading to pain and blurred vision. She ended up needing to get surgery to get the ink out before it dried and caused even more damage to her eye. Even with the ink mostly removed, Gallinger still had scattered clumps of dye around her cornea and vision loss almost two years after the correction surgery.

Other cases have gone just as badly, if not worse. In one instance, someone who’d undergone the sclera tattoo procedure had to have their entire eye removed because of the pain it caused them. Comparatively speaking, Gallinger got lucky when the alternatives for what could have happened to her eye are considered.

I Still Want to Change my Eye Color

If people are looking for a change to their regular aesthetic, eyeball tattoos would be more painful and dangerous than it’s worth. Instead, consider investing in different colored contacts. They’ll give that added flair of a different aesthetic without causing physical, and in some cases irreversible, damage to the eye. Just make sure the eye can tolerate the contacts before investing in other sets.

For now, and probably forever, stay away from the idea of getting an eyeball tattoo. The fact of the matter is, as of right now, getting an eyeball tattoo allows a non-medical professional to inject the sclera of the eye with tattoo ink. This is not only extremely dangerous, but can harm the eyeball permanently. 

Until there are more regulations in place to ensure the procedure is done safely, it’s best to avoid eyeball tattoos altogether. Even if there are regulations in place, there’s still no data to suggest that eyeball tattoos aren’t harmful to the eye in the long run.


Bottom line? Don’t get an eyeball tattoo now, in the near future, or even in the distant future. They are dangerous and can lead to irreparable damage to the eye. Don’t risk losing an eye for the sake of the aesthetic. There are plenty of other areas on the body that can be tattooed without fear of permanent damage.