A woman shows a botched ink injection in her eyeball. Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press

A woman shows a botched ink injection in her eyeball. Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press

Proposal Calls For Banning Eye Tattoos in Washington State

Canada has already banned this procedure.

By Madeline Coats, WNPA Olympia News Bureau

Lawmakers aim to prohibit scleral tattooing, otherwise known as the practice of scarring or inserting pigment onto the human eye.

House Bill 1856 is co-sponsored by 17 representatives and introduced by Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Port Townsend.

“This is odd, but it’s not a joke,” said Tharinger at a public hearing on Wednesday. “In a moment of irrationality, someone might choose to get their sclera tattooed.”

According to the bill, the sclera is the white outer coating of the eye. The tough, fibrous tissue extends from the cornea to the optic nerve at the back of the eye.

Dr. Aaron Lee, a retina surgeon, testified in support of the bill on behalf of the Washington Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons. He is a certified ophthalmologist and cares for patients with retinal detachment and infections.

“Sclera tattooing is the procedure where somebody takes a needle or a knife and injects dye into the white part of the eye,” Lee said.

Someone without proper medical and surgical training or correct instruments could easily allow the needle to go inside the eye and damage the retina, he said. This procedure can cause retinal detachment or infection, which is a life altering blinding event and may result in removing an eye completely.

Violators would be subject to a civil penalty determined by the court, the bill states. Complaints may be filed against individuals who perform scleral tattooing with the state Attorney General to investigate and prosecute the allegations, as referenced in HB 1856.

Canada has already banned this procedure, Lee said.

“As it’s becoming more popular, we’re starting to see reports of the consequences of these things not only in the news media, but also in our medical literature,” he said. “I don’t think we should wait to see somebody go blind.”

More in News & Comment

Redmond’s Neelam Chahlia crowned as Mrs. Washington America and competing for the national Mrs. America title on Aug. 26. Photo courtesy of Neelam Chahlia
Redmond’s Chahlia to compete for Mrs. America 2020 title

Mrs. Washington America winner says her journey embodies the ‘American Dream.’

Alaska Airlines to begin Everett-Spokane service on Nov. 4

It will be the carrier’s first in-state route and its 10th destination from Paine Field.

As his wife Heather looks on, John Norman gets a hug from his daughter Amber Nelson, and granddaughter Ashlee Nelson, right, after his replica of the Spirit of St. Louis flew for the first time from Arlington Municipal Airport on Sunday, July 28, 2019 in Arlington, Wash. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
This might be the best Spirit of St. Louis replica ever made

A plane like the one Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic logged its first flight in Arlington.

Renton Police Officer Tanuj Soni has been charged with fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation and abuse of office. Photo courtesy of City of Renton
Court documents reveal details of alleged assault by a Renton police officer

Deputy Chief says RPD is performing an internal investigation

Chronicling the last years of a dying North Cascades glacier

For nearly four decades, scientist Mauri Pelto has journeyed to measure the melting Columbia Glacier.

What can otters tell us about watershed pollution?

An Oregon professor spent a year on Whidbey studying river otters for insight into the environment.

Lying, spying and destroying evidence spur guardian reforms

Judges say court-appointed guardians broke the law to keep a child away from her troubled parents.

Woman accused of trying to lure girl from family in Edmonds

The Lynnwood suspect allegedly was also seen photographing the 4-year-old at the Edmonds Yacht Club.

Bikini baristas could take dress code fight to Supreme Court

For now, they’ve requested a rehearing after the federal court sided with the city of Everett in July.

Most Read