Back in September, a 24-year-old Canadian woman named Catt Gallinger had a major tattoo mishap. She is now warning people in hopes that they will not make the same mistake.
The model got a “scleral tattoo” that went all wrong and left her partially blind. The procedure involved having ink injected into one of her sclera, which is the medical term for the white outer layer of the eyeball. The plan was for her to tattoo and permanently color the white of her eye, but it did not go as planned. After many complications, she later called the procedure a “massive mistake” in a Facebook post with pictures of the results.
She nearly lost her eye, and you can see in the pictures that the purple dye is now seeping from her eye. Her lavender sclera is swollen and infected and it just looks terribly painful and like an absolute nightmare.
“It hurt. It burned,” Gallinger told TIME magazine. “At its worst, it’s like having a migraine and then also being punched in the face at the same time. It’s taken a big toll on my mental health.”
Gallinger had an eye surgery to remove the ink, but is it possible that she will regain 100 percent of the vision in her eye? And who is to blame for this tattoo gone wrong?
She blames her injuries on an inexperienced tattoo artist. She said that the needle the artist was using was too big and that he injected ink that was not diluted properly too deeply into her eye. It doesn’t help that this guy was also her boyfriend. Well, ex-boyfriend now. At the time, she trusted her then-boyfriend, who is a body modification artist. She thought that he would be able to complete the procedure, and this wasn’t her first rodeo. She already has 25 tattoos on her body and had another risky procedure where she split her tongue down the middle to make it look forked.
For Gallinger, she felt like an eye tattoo was the next step for her body art.
“Body modification is something that is growing more popular every day. It’s a big part of my life,” she told TIME. “I have a lot of my friends who have had [sclera tattoos] done and have had it done well. It was something I was interested in.”
Gallinger wanted to dye her sclera purple because she thought that it would be a nice contrast with her green eyes.
“It’s not that I wanted to stand out to the public, but for me it’s part of expressing who I am,” she said. She thought that she was ready to do it, but she hadn’t done enough research and gave in when her boyfriend said that he could do it for her.
She finally decided to go to the hospital, where they gave her antibiotics and steroid eye drops. She also decided that she was going to go to the police to complain about what her ex did to her. “I’m not forgiving him. I won’t be leaving it alone,” she said. “I want him off the streets before he does something worse to someone else.”
In a video that she posted online, she talked about her mistake. She said, “I took my eyesight for granted and trusted someone I shouldn’t have. And even if this heals, my eyesight is not going to be back.”
It turns out that getting your eyeball tattooed is a thing. According to Canada-based tattoo artist Russ Foxx, this crazy trend started appearing in the last few years. And he would know, because he has performed this body modification several times.
A study that was published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology Case Reports found that there are major risks associated with the procedure. Wait, getting an eyeball tattoo can be dangerous? You don’t say!?
The risks include untreatable eyeball infections and in worst case scenarios “loss of vision or the eye.” Yeah, I think I will keep my eye. But I love the look! In several different Facebook updates, Gallinger talks about the details of the different medical treatments that she has received since the botched tattoo and she also talks about her progress with her eyesight.
In one of her videos on Facebook she said, “I would never recommend anyone do this. I would never recommend that this is a good decision.”
The surgeries have gone smoothly so far and they are still working on removing the ink and getting her back to normal. She is unaware if she will need more surgeries in the future and she says that she is feeling a lot better and has some of her vision back. Only time will tell how much of her vision returns.
Gallinger is the second person in Canada to have complications from an eye tattoo. Doctors had to remove a man’s eye after he was experiencing pain because of the same procedure. Gallinger is lucky that they have been able to fix the problem for the most part and that she is improving.
So if you were planning on getting an eyeball tattoo, think again. This trend has not been around long enough to be properly studied, and you could lose an eye or your eyesight if it isn’t done properly. Just leave your eyeballs alone. Will ya!? It just isn’t worth it.