Doctors call for ban on dangerous eyeball tattoos

HEALTH experts have slammed the Baird Government for effectively legalising eyeball tattooing, a dangerous cosmetic procedure that can turn people blind.

The practice involves injecting ink below the outer membrane of the whites of the eyes to permanently stain them a different colour.

The NSW Government on Friday introduced new legislation to regulate the fledgling eyeball tattooing industry, alongside more popular niche body modifications such as tongue piercing.

The government says the new laws aimed to make the practice safer, but Opposition health spokesman Walt Secord labelled it a "major stuff-up" that had effectively given tattooists the all-clear to perform the perilous operation.

University of Sydney eye health and infection expert Dr Con Petsoglou said it was so dangerous that legalisation should not be considered.

"There is no question that the practice of eyeball tattooing must be banned," he said.

"Unlike skin procedures, the surface of the sclera is a soft delicate mucosal lining called conjunctiva and injections in this area can and will lead to infections, inflammation and loss of vision.

"It is not a matter of if, but when the patient will develop these preventable health problems."

Dr Petsoglou said eyeball tattooing was a new fad that needed to be stopped before it gathered popularity among young people.

"While the tattooist uses a gel to anesthetise the area, the multiple injections performed and the dye used in the procedure is absolutely unsafe," he said.

"As an eye specialist, I still see regular eye infections in people who wear cosmetic, 'novelty' contact lenses which can be bought from party stores instead of regulated health professionals.

"This new fad is unsafe and cannot be reversed as the dye is permanent."

Health Minister Jillian Skinner said she would consider banning the procedure if there were no legitimate medical reasons to have it done. -APN NEWSDESK

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