Young Model Could Lose Vision After Botched Eyeball Tattoo

October 2, 2017 Updated: October 2, 2017

A model gave a heartfelt warning to others after her eyeball tattoo mishap.

The Ottawa-based model allowed a man she was dating to give her the procedure. She wanted to tattoo the white of her eye purple. She ended up with a very mangled-looking, swollen eye. She posted photos of the afflicted eye on social media, Inside Edition reported.

“The artist, my ex-boyfriend, just kept pushing me until I got it done that night,” the model told Vice. “We were only together for a month, but I’ve known him for years. It was something I thought I could trust him with because he had a portfolio. I was wrong.”

Catt Gallinger, 24, got the procedure done Sept. 5. Tattoo parlors are not legally permitted to give eye tattoos. Her former boyfriend gave her the tattoo late at night in a studio, CBC News reported. While in recovery from the procedure, her boyfriend broke up with her.

After researching the topic online, Gallinger now feels her ex-boyfriend wasn’t as skilled as she thought. She now thinks he used a needle that was too big, stuck it too deep into her eyeball, and did not dilute the ink.

Gallinger went to the hospital but staff did not know how to treat her because they were not familiar with the condition. Eye tattoos are still a very new trend. Doctors she saw later scheduled her for surgery. She is hoping they can save her vision.

The boyfriend, Eric Brown, said that he has done over 20 eye tattoos, and this is only the second to have a problem. He said the first tattoo he did had a problem because cat dander got into the person’s eye. He maintains that Gallinger would have been fine if she had used eyedrops.

“My procedure was clean, only two mere injections, with an ink that has been tested, that we know is safe to use in eyes,” said Brown to CBC News. “I told [Gallinger] the risks or what kind of swelling she could expect and she went through with it anyway.”

Brown himself has an eyeball tattoo. The procedure is known in more academic circles as scleral pigmentation. Unlike a normal tattoo, the ink must be applied to the correct layer of the eyeball in patches. The needle has to puncture the eye to spread in the area under the needle, but unlike a regular tattoo the needle is not dragged across the area.

There are successful examples of eye tattoos, like a YouTube video blogger who has spoken about his successful experience of tattooing his eyeball blue. The host of YouTube channel ViloniousTV said the reason for the model’s bad experience has to do with the inexperience of her ex-boyfriend.

According to Popular Science, eyeball tattooing is a procedure employed by eye care professionals in rare instances. But the magazine said that the skills of a tattoo parlor artist are completely different from what is needed to tattoo an eyeball.