A model from Canada is warning people to "think twice" about a body modification practice quickly growing in popularity after "losing sight" in her right eye.
Catt Gallinger from Ottawa is recovering slowly but steadily over the past month following her decision to get a sclera tattoo, which colors in the whites of the eye.
Calling the decision a "massive mistake," Gallinger shared the horrifying results of the procedure on social media, according to The Sun.
The images, posted to her Facebook wall, shows the 24-year-old former pet nutritionist in various stages of recovery following a visit to the hospital last month when she complained of purple discharge oozing from her eye.
Medical professionals administered antibiotics drops to the affected area and sent Gallinger home.
But shortly after receiving the treatment, her eye became swollen shut.
Doctors then gave Gallinger steroid drops to alleviate her symptoms, but after three weeks the purple tattoo began to congeal around her cornea, blurring her vision and causing intense discomfort.
Gallinger told The Sun newspaper that she has had to spend hundreds of dollars on prescriptions so far and says that her modeling career is on hold for the time being.
In speaking with publication, she cautioned others to first "look into not just the artist and their portfolio, but to talk to some of their clients, talk to other artists about them and get experiences beforehand."
Asked why she wanted a sclera tattoo to begin with, Gallinger said the modification would help "make me feel more at home in my body".
Physicians told Gallenger that her eye has sustained permanent damage and will either have to "go completely or stay a blurry mess."
She is hopeful, however, that surgery will prevent her condition from getting worse.
Doctors believe that the size of the needle, depth and amount of ink used on Gallenger caused the initial symptom.
They fear that an infection is stuck in the excess ink, which contaminated Gallenger's eye through equipment not properly sterilized.
Gallinger began posting public Facebook updates about her eye on Sept. 20 to warn others against the procedure.
By then, she said, she had visited the hospital several times and had been prescribed a slew of antibiotic and steroidal eye drops to reduce inflammation.
Her vision in that eye had blurred and showed no signs of improving, she added.
"There are multiple people who can attest that my aftercare was good and any other part of what I am saying," Gallinger wrote.
"I am NOT sharing this with you to cause trouble, I am sharing this to warn you to research who you get your procedures by as well as how the procedure should be properly done."
In later updates and in comments, Gallinger accused the person who had tattooed her eyeball of misstating his qualifications and training and said she planned on taking legal action.
"The procedure was done by someone who told me that they were experienced," Gallinger said in a subsequent video.
"It is my fault that I believed him. It is my fault that I gave in when they repetitively asked me to do my eye."
Gallinger identified the person as her then-boyfriend, a body modification artist, to Time magazine:
"She already has about 25 tattoos on her body, and has undergone another risky procedure to split her tongue to make it appear forked. So Gallinger said getting a sclera tattoo seemed like the next step. . . . But Gallinger hadn't done enough research and gave in too soon to pressure from her boyfriend, she said.
"During the procedure, Gallinger said he made many errors. He did not mix the ink with any saline. He used a large needle instead of a small one, which went too deep into the eye. And instead of doing several small dosages, Gallinger just took one large injection during a 10-minute sitting."
Neither Gallinger nor the person she named as having done the procedure responded to interview requests from The Post on Saturday.
In her latest update, Gallinger tearfully described the pain as "excruciating" and hoped to undergo surgery in the next week to remove excess ink from her eye.
"Today has been a very painful day for my eye," she said Friday. "In a lot of points it's been pretty excruciating. It feels a lot like having things stabbed in it again."
Body modification procedures, sometimes referred to as "body mods," include anything that changes one's anatomy or appearance, from piercings to breast implants to foot binding.
Body tattoos and ear piercings are perhaps the most common forms of body modification, but in recent years, more extreme procedures - such as tongue splitting and, yes, eyeball tattooing - have taken hold.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology strongly recommends against sclera tattooing, noting risks such as blindness or worse.
The medical organization documented a case earlier this year in which a 24-year-old man had to have an eye removed after a "scleral tattoo gone wrong."
"Putting any kind of needle on the eye is very dangerous," Philip Rizzuto, an AAO spokesman, told USA Today. "We do that all the time, but we're trained for 12 to 18 years how to go about treating the eye."
Luna Cobra, an Australian body modification artist, claims to have invented sclera staining about a decade ago. Even he has a warning on his website against getting the procedure done by "copycats."
"I personally have not trained anyone else to do this procedure. I have appeared on various tv/news segments though, and have inspired many copycats worldwide," he wrote.
"This is important to know because without the proper education, training, experience and guidance, these practitioners have caused vision impairments like blurred vision, spots or floaters, and even blindness. YES PEOPLE ARE NOW BLIND FROM EYEBALL TATTOOING."
On Facebook, Gallinger said she had been in contact with Luna Cobra since her ordeal - and, though she said she respected him, added she had no plans to undergo the procedure ever again.
"Just please be cautious who you get your mods from and do your research," Gallinger wrote.
"I don't want this to happen to anyone else."
- with The Washington Post