4 Oct 2017

NZ eye doctors call for scleral tattooing ban

3:48 pm on 4 October 2017

Ophthalmologists want a ban on eyeball tattooing because of its "terrifying adverse effects".

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Catt Gallinger posted images on social media to raise awareness of the dangers of scleral tattooing Photo: supplied

Last week, Canadian model Catt Gallinger caused a media storm when she went public about the dangers of scleral tattooing after temporarily losing the sight in one eye.

An Auckland ophthalmologist Zak Prime recently treated the first New Zealand patients with complications from the procedure, which involves injecting tattoo ink into the white of the eye.

One of the patients was a 22-year-old woman whose eyes had begun to swell to the point where she couldn't close them.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists said the procedure was extremely dangerous, and could result in infection, intense pain and blindness.

"Recent media stories have highlighted the terrifying adverse effects of this procedure."

It wants governments on both sides of the Tasman to outlaw eyeball tattooing being conducted by anyone who is not a medically trained eyecare professional.

The college said action needed to be taken now, before the practice becomes widespread in Australasia.

"Not only will this help prevent the life-altering impact of vision loss for individuals, but it can also prevent the burden on the public health system, as severe eye injuries require complex treatment and ongoing medical care.

Last year it unsuccessfully lobbied for tighter regulation in New South Wales, which would have only allowed registered medical practitioners to carry out the procedure.