The color purple doesn’t belong here.
Catt Gallinger, 24, from Ontario, Canada, is warning others of the drastic consequences of getting a “sclera tattoo” — a tinting of the whites of the eyes to another color using a hypodermic needle — after getting purple ink injected her right eye. Gallinger said that she got the tattoo in mid-September and since then, it has swelled, purpled, leaked colored tears and her vision could be permanently ruined.
According to the model, who has been posting written and video updates to her Facebook page, the damage was “caused by undiluted ink, over injection, (and/or) not enough/smaller injections sights” during the procedure.
Gallinger’s eye initially began leaking the light purple ink before swelling shut. Three weeks later, the sclera itself began to swell and hemorrhage, with the sclera tearing due to a puncture from the needle, leading to irritation, double and blurred vision. Doctors gave Gallinger drops and ointments to contain the swelling, dispel the ink, dilate the pupil and help disperse the ink.
Doctors are concerned the equipment wasn’t sterile, due to an infection caused by the ink, Gallinger said. A commenter on one of her videos asked if she was planning to take legal action, she simply said, “yes.”
Gallinger acknowledged that she should not have trusted the artist, who repeatedly asked her to get the tattoo done, but also said he should not be insisting on performing a sensitive procedure without proper training. Gallinger warns others to do their research on artists, body modification procedures, and to reach out to others to get feedback.
After receiving comments that what she did was “stupid,” Gallinger said in an emotional video on Sep. 25: “you know what? You really think that after something like this, I’m not the first person thinking that? I’m the first person to think that every single time I look at myself.”
Gallinger, who wears light sensitive dark glasses inside and outside, is completely discouraged from continuing her modeling career.
“I don’t see myself ever being comfortable enough to do another shoot. I can barely look at myself except for when I have to do my treatments,” she wrote on Sept. 23.
Her most recent post said she was waiting to meet a cornea specialist.
“I am sharing this to warn you to research who you get your procedures by as well as how the procedure should be properly done,” Gallinger wrote in her first public post about the incident.
Doctors have done corneal tattoos for medical reasons and to cover discoloration from disease or injury, but the trend of sclera tattoos as a cosmetic body modification can be traced to 2007, with posts on BME.com, a body modification blog, about a “highly experimental procedure that should not be emulated.” Currently, the site has more than 100 pictures of users’ tinted eyeballs.
In Oklahoma, the state Senate passed a bill declaring sclera tattoos illegal in 2009.