No Ink in the Eyes of the Law

Illinois Senate votes to ban eye tattoos

By Matt Bartosik
|  Monday, Jun 21, 2010  |  Updated 2:39 PM CDT
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A new proposal passed by the Illinois Senate is easy on the eyes.

The Senate recently voted to make eyeball tattooing—a.k.a. scleral tattooing—illegal in the state, reports the Daily Herald.

Scleral tattooing is the process of injecting dye into the white part of the eye or placing tiny bits of jewelry under the eye tissue.

All together now: "Eewww."

That's exactly the reaction the Illinois legislators had when they heard about it.

According to one online article, the procedure is "effectively painless because there aren't any nerve endings in the surface of the eye." However, eye tattooing can result in bruising, blistering, and much worse.

"Cosmetic tattooing of the cornea can be extremely dangerous," Dr. Sandra Belmont, a clinical associate professor of ophthalmology, told the New York Post. "Infection, perforation, and hemorrhage are among the potential complications."

So why would anyone want to inject dye into their eyeballs?

Patients who have suffered from eye trauma (e.g., a burn or cut) may have discoloring scars. A tattoo would help cover that up, making the eye appear more normal.

However, Illinois legislators note that scleral contacts would have the same effect and are much safer.

The Senate passed the proposal banning the procedure, making an exemption only for tattoos done by licensed doctors, reports the Daily Herald.

You'd have a rough time finding one to do it to you though.

"I certainly recommend corneal tattooing in a patient with a corneal scar – but I do not recommend these procedures to be performed solely for the purpose of body adornment due to significant vision-threatening side effects," Belmont said, according to the New York Post.

The Illinois proposal moves on to the House, where it is scheduled for debate on April 15.

Possibly soon, beauty—and only beauty—will be in the eyes of the beholders.

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.

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