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article imageOregon man tattoos eyeballs in controversial procedure

By Kim I. Hartman     Oct 24, 2010 in World
Portland - From Toronto to San Francisco, New York to Colorado the latest trend in changing your appearance is by tattooing your eyes, or the whites of your eyeballs to be specific- An Oregon tattoo enthusiast has joined the list of people turning fad into fashion.
Matt Gone, known as the man with checkerboard tattoos, said he’s now done something few have tried – injecting ink into both eyes … by himself.
During the past 20 years the Portland man has covered 98 percent of his skin with ink and said tattooing the whites of your eyes “is about as far as you can go,” Fox 11 Oregon reports.
When doctors do it, it's called corneal tattooing; but when perfectly healthy people looking who are just looking for another space on the body to pierce, tattoo or scar themselves, it's called insane.
Gone said birth defects that left some of his muscles underdeveloped inspired him to start tattooing his body nearly 20 years ago as a means to disguise his deformities.
But some doctors believe Gone has gone too far with his latest design. Dr. Douglas Meier, an ophthalmologist with the Portland Clinic in Beaverton, said Gone is at risk for infection that could lead to blindness or could even cause him to lose his eyes.
"The risk of putting a needle near your eye is grave," said Meier. "Someone at home does not have access to the equipment nor the expertise."
Gone said he knew the risks and he proceeded with caution.
"I patch tested it and was successful. I had to take the risk; I've done that a lot of times before," said Gone. "I'm not crazy. I'm trained. I have a lot of experience."
At prisons in Colorado and across the nation a handful of inmates have joined in the fun and are learning the procedure by practicing on each other. Through trial and error they have helped create the standard protocol in how to do home, business, or prison eyeball tattoo's.
Highly illegal within the prison system and in a few states as well, "eyeball tattoo's" have become a growing trend.
Dangers of going blind don't seem to deter those who want colored eyes and will endure the pain of 40 or so sticks in the whites of the eyes to get the color result they desire.
To tattoo the eyes, they used two different procedures. First they used a traditional needle with ink on it, but when the ink didn't hold, they switched to a syringe that injected ink into the eye. The most recent posts indicate that all was well, with one of the guys saying it felt like he had something in his eye and it was best described as being "jabbed repeatedly with an ice pick in the eyes.
The procedure has been made illegal in some cities. The State of Oklahoma voted unanimously last year to ban any and all tattooing of the eye after 13 years of being legal.
Doctors and ophthalmologists say that its not a good idea.
"Cosmetic tattooing of the cornea can be extremely dangerous," advises Dr. Sandra Belmont, a clinical associate professor of ophthalmology at Weill Cornell Medical Center-New York Presbyterian Hospital.
"Infection, loss of vision, blindness, perforation and hemorrhage are among the potential complications," she adds. "And its bizarre and creepy to look at too." But as long as their tattooing their eyes it will make it easier to tell us from "them" someday.
Warning: This entry documents a highly experimental procedure that should not be emulated. Complications, dangers and risks are high and the procedure can lead to immediate and permanent blindness or the loss of the eyes.
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