Warning: Some readers may find these images disturbing
An Ottawa woman is warning others not to consider eye tattoos after the one she received earlier this month left her partially blinded.
Catt Gallinger, a 24-year-old tattoo and body modification model, went to a tattoo artist earlier this month to get a “scleral tattoo,” a procedure that involves injecting a small amount of ink into the sclera, which comprises the whites of the eyes.
She says purple dye began seeping from her eye immediately and her eye swelled shut the next day. She has since learned that the dye travelled past the sclera deep into her eye itself.
Gallinger has taken to Facebook to publicly share graphic and disturbing images of the botched procedure, which she now calls a “massive mistake.”
Gallinger, who has several other tattoos, piercings and a forked tongue, believes her mistake was in choosing a poorly trained tattoo artist who she says used the wrong sized needle, and injected the dye too deeply into her eye.
“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,” she said in a tearful video she uploaded Monday.
Gallinger has spent the last few weeks seeing eye specialists and has learned that the tattoo caused a “hemorrhage and sclera tearing” that is now compromising her eyesight.
She has been given several medications, including antibiotics and steroids, to try to help the eye recover but she says she may still require surgery.
While her eyesight has improved slightly, doctors have told her that it is unlikely to ever fully recover.
“It will either go completely or stay a blurry mess,” she says.
Scleral tattoos are not common, but ophthalmologists have published case reports of others who have developed serious eye infections, called endophthalmitis. In some cases, the only way to stop the pain was to remove the eyeball altogether.
In a video posted Tuesday, Gallinger said the experience has left her with “some very bad” and “scary” emotions, but she says she is battling her depression and trying to ignore the “negativity” she’s faced while trying to warn others to learn from her mistake.
“I would never recommend anyone do this. I would never recommend that this is a good decision,” she said. “…Don’t risk it. It’s not worth it.”