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

Law would prohibit 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

File photo
$30 car tab proposal returns to ballot in November

Tim Eyman-led initiative would restrict car tabs and transportation benefit districts in Washington.

Courtesy photo
                                Liat Perlman (left) and Sarah Hobson (right) launched Spirit206 over the summer.
MIHS students launch Spirit206

Spirit206 is a platform for student artists to showcase and sell handmade spirit wear.

A reduced pressure backflow assembly located on a water fill station at the city maintenance yard. Photo courtesy of Brain McDaniel
Backflow assembly tests are overdue

More than 100 sites have yet to report their results.

Mercer Island PD hopes sonar will lead to missing boaters

Cell phones left behind on boat gave little help in narrowing the search area.

File photo
King County alcohol production ordinance could be approved by year’s end

Update to county code has been more than a year in the making.

Mercer Island City Hall. File photo
Council voted to find Mayor in violation of code of ethics

Aug. 20 council meeting held executive session, investigative review of Mayor’s email.

KCSO found all but one of the 108 allegations of excessive or unnecessary use of force were justified

The Office of Law Enforcement Oversight has released its annual 2018 report.

Parts of Mercer Island left without power after car collides with pole

A 41-year-old Seattle woman was allegedly intoxicated when the accident happened.

Most Read