How Scleral Tattoos Work

Lots More Information

Author's Note: How Scleral Tattoos Work

I got my left ear pierced back in the early 1990s, for what probably seems like an odd reason: My wife and I had just gotten married, and we were either too frugal or too broke— I forget which — to buy gold wedding rings. And I'm a bit absent-minded, so I was certain that if I got a ring, I'd inevitably leave it in a gym locker room or on the hotel nightstand (I traveled a lot in those days). So instead, she and I went to the Piercing Pagoda at the local shopping mall and split the $25-a-pair gold ear stud special as a symbol of our love. I soon acquired a variety of ear studs and rings, including a ceramic yin-yang symbol, a gold peace sign, and my favorite, a silver skull dangling from a chain that my wife fashioned for me from stuff she bought at the local bead shop.

Having an earring was kind of a gateway drug for me, and pretty soon, I was sporting other affectations of nonconformity. I traded in my foreign correspondent-style raincoat for a black biker jacket and a beret, and grew a ponytail and a chin beard that I imagined made me look as cool as Dave Navarro, the guitarist for the then-popular alt-rock band Jane's Addiction. I contemplated getting a barbed-wire band or Chinese characters tattooed on my arm as well, but I never quite could go through with it—in part because of a fear of getting some infectious disease from the needle, in part because I was concerned about how silly it would look someday when I was an old man playing shuffleboard in a trailer park in Sarasota.

Related Articles


  • Associated Press. "Tattoo Fad May Illustrate Fleeting Nature of a Trend." Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Dec. 26, 1995. (March 17, 2013),712638&dq=grandmothers+with+tattoo&hl=en
  • Ellensburgh Capital. "Tattoo on Eyeball."Ellensburgh Capital. Dec. 26, 1903. (March 20, 2013),365892&dq=tattoo+eyeball&hl=en
  • Fricker, Martin. "The Inkredible Hulk: Britain's most tattooed man changes his name to Mr Body Art." March 6, 2013. (March 20, 2013)
  • Glaucoma Research Foundation. "Five Common Glaucoma Tests." Undated. (March 17, 2013)
  • Guynup, Sharon. "Scarification: Ancient Body Art Leaving New Marks." National Geographic News. July 28, 2004. (March 17, 2013)
  • Harris Interactive. "One in Five U.S. Adults Now Has a Tattoo." Feb. 23, 2012. (March 20, 2013)
  • Hartman, Kim. "Oregon man tattoos eyeballs in controversial procedure." Digital Journal. Oct. 24, 2010. (March 18, 2013)
  • Kershner, Robert M, M.D. F.A.C.S. "Disorders of Sclera." Undated. (March 18, 2013)
  • Larratt, Shannon. "The Eyeball Tattoo FAQ." Oct. 18, 2012. (March 20, 2013)
  • Larratt, Shannon. "Green Eyes, Blue Iris." March 5, 2013. (March 20, 2013)
  • Larratt, Shannon. "Orange and Red Ink Eyeball Tattoos." March 1, 2013. (March 18, 2013)
  • Larratt, Shannon. "The Sleeper Has Awakened." Oct. 27, 2012. (March 18, 2013)
  • Larratt, Shannon. "Three Blind Mice." July 2, 2007. (March 17, 2013)
  • Laumann, A.E. and Derick, A. J. "Tattoos and Body Piercings in the United States: A National Data Set." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. September 2006. (March 17, 2013)
  • Masters, Dave. "See World's First Eyeball Tattoo." The Sun. Feb. 27, 2008. (March 17, 2013)
  • MedlinePlus. "Sclera." Feb. 27, 2013. (March 17, 2013)
  • Merck Manual. "Structure and Function of the Eyes." August 2006. (March 18, 2013)
  • Pitz, S. et al. "Corneal Tattooing: An Alternative Treatment for Disfiguring Corneal Scars." Journal of Ophthalmology. 2002. (March 17, 2013)
  • Positano, Dr. Rock. "Don't Turn Blind Eye to Eye Tattoo Risks." New York Post. July 31, 2007. (March 17, 2013)
  • Retina Eye Specialists. "Intravitreal Injection." Undated. (March 17, 2013)
  • Smith, Chris. "Mr. Mike's Mondo Muerte." New York. Nov. 28, 1994. (March 17, 2013)'donoghue+needles+in+eyes&source=bl&ots=ALQlU758qv&sig=IIxYpzXdgYdbhbSZpe-6zGKCY6E&hl=en&sa=X&ei=iYZGUe3nJ4Li4AOqpICgAQ&ved=0CE4Q6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=michael%20o'donoghue%20needles%20in%20eyes&f=false

More to Explore