All About Eye Implant (Ocular and Extraocular Implants)

It has been a long time since people were concerned about body piercings and tattoos. These body modifications have become an acceptable form of self-expression for most individuals today as long as they are admired and accepted as such. There are instances in which seeing piercings or tattoos in a particularly sensitive part of the body gives you the creeps – such as this one. You may not know that people surgically implant jewelry onto their eyeballs to give them a glimmer in the eye that is so romantic? Yes, just thinking about it gives us pain in our eyes.

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A cosmetic implant involving an extraocular implant consists of a piece of jewelry that is implanted into the surface of the eye, just under the conjunctiva. The Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery developed JewelEye in 2002 and began marketing it there in 2003. In the Netherlands, so long as it’s done by a licensed ophthalmologist in sterile conditions, the procedure is considered legal. I’m not sure why it makes me any less squeamish about it that it is “completely legal in the Netherlands.”

In this article, we have covered all the important details that pertain to eye implants. The purpose of this discussion is to discuss why and how one should undertake this procedure. Take time to understand every detail of this process before you decide to pursue it on your own. You need to speak with a physician as well before moving forward with your decision. Following are the sections that have attempted to provide the most information.

Ocular Implants

Today’s world is all about customization. It is all the rage to have things made to your specifications, but when it comes to genetics, what you see is what you get. Some are not satisfied with genetics when it leaves something to be desired. Before this, most parts of the body could not be changed, but now they can also be surgically corrected or augmented, allowing people to achieve physical bodies that they would not have had through genetics alone. Despite all the available options for body modification, the color of the eyes was one of the few things that people could not permanently change. So far, that has been the case.

There are now several companies offering new ways you can customize your appearance by using eye implants. Depending on the implant used, a colored silicon iris can be used to alter an individual’s eye color permanently. In most cases, implanted iris tissue is folded over the existing cornea to permanently change the color of a person’s eye. Through a slit in the cornea, the implant is inserted and can be removed. Thus, if you’ve always thought about having crazy violet eyes or baby blue eyes, it’s possible if you’re willing to take the risk.

As far as medical applications are concerned, ocular implants are not just for cosmetic purposes. In cases where a person is born with an eye defect like aniridia (not having an iris) or coloboma (the absence of tissue in the eye and around the eye), ocular implants can help restore their vision and give them a better quality of life.

For those who are only considering ocular implants for cosmetic reasons, caution is advised. There have been numerous medical professionals who have indicated that the risks may not be worth it. People with normal iris are more likely than those with abnormal iris to suffer complications associated with ocular implants. Blindness, cataracts, glaucoma, corneal injuries, and iris inflammation are among the complications that develop following macular degeneration.

Although changing eye color may seem like another way for us to customize our bodies, it’s worth carefully analyzing the risks before seriously considering the process.

The risks

In light of this, here are 4 quick reasons why you should avoid scleral tattoos, and any eye modification in general:

Blindness. Multiple reports indicate that scleral tattoos can lead to blindness. Ink can get into your cornea due to inexperienced tattoo artists and/or simple mistakes, resulting in it being blocked, clouded, or doubling your vision.

Infection. It is possible to contract serious infections from injecting ink that is not sterile. It is also possible for infections such as endophthalmitis to be brought on by nonsterile needles used in injections.

Inflammation, and daily eye pain. Incorrectly inserted needles or misjudgments on the part of the tattoo artist may result in long-lasting eye pain and severe inflammation and discomfort.

It is the loss of the eye itself. An unfortunate case reported from the University of Alberta in Canada in 2017 describes a patient who experienced a painful loss of vision after being injected with ink into his eye. When the surgeons treated him following the incident, they had to remove the lens of his eye due to the damage caused to it by the needle during the procedure.

The risk of this type of eye modification, such as scleral tattoos, cannot be worth it considering these potentially dangerous side effects. It has happened that some people have received scleral tattoos without experiencing symptoms, but any scleral tattoo is a gamble, even if the tattoo is performed by a professional. You are truly betting your future on your eyesight by getting a scleral tattoo.

You can express yourself by changing the color of your eyes for aesthetic reasons by working with your eye doctor to obtain a prescription for colored contacts. Having your eye doctor become involved and purchasing prescriptions, tailor-made contacts from an approved vendor is an easier and safer way to change the color of your eyes.

Extraocular Implants

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Extraocular implants (also called eyeball jewelry) involve the implantation of a small piece of decorative jewelry within the conjunctiva or sclera of the eye to enhance the visual appearance.

The Netherlands was the first country to produce eyeball jewelry in 2002 as a radically new form of body modification. In the Netherlands, it is marketed as JewelEye and was developed by the Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery. In the Netherlands, so long as it’s done by a licensed ophthalmologist in sterile conditions, the procedure is considered legal. Several Canadian provinces have prohibited eyeball jewelry and scleral tattooing because of possible health risks, including Saskatchewan and Ontario.

How Does It Look?

In the white of your eye, you can have an eyeball piercing in the shape of a heart, star, or gemstone. A platinum alloy is used to make the jewelry, which is very small and made from an alloy of platinum. Generally speaking, eye surgeons who have worked with eyeball jewelry are comfortable implanting it and have the proper tools.

This procedure is similar to an intraocular implant, but it is more intensive. The entire artificial iris that constitutes your eye’s colored part is placed on top of your natural iris beneath the top clear layer of the eye. Immediately after the procedure, you will notice a difference in the color of your eyes. The eye color procedure was originally designed for people who, because of their irises, we’re unable to develop normally, or who had injured their eyes.

Nowadays, however, more and more people are seeking intraocular implants for cosmetic purposes.

The procedure of Extraocular Implants

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Extraocular implants are currently only available in a medical clinic environment, unlike subdermal implants and other new body modification techniques. A relatively quick procedure requires that both eyes be immobilized with anesthetic drops, and layers of the eyeballs where the implant will be inserted must first be separated with liquid. There are currently no long-term health effects of this procedure due to the low number of people who have undergone the procedure and the fact that it is a relatively new procedure.

According to the Website of the Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery, the implant does not interfere with the function of the eye, such as its visual and functional abilities. As of the time of writing, the patient satisfaction with the treatment remains high and no side effects are having been observed.

Here’s how it usually works:

  1. Preoperative testing ensures that your physical and mental health is in order, thus ensuring that you are strong enough for surgery.
  2. Your jewelry will be placed in the place and type of jewelry you choose.
  3. Both of your eyes will be numbed with an anesthetic to prevent you from feeling pain.
  4. You may be offered another type of anesthesia. Nitrous oxide (also called laughing gas) is another form of anesthesia.
  5. Possibly, you will be offered Valium or another sedative drug.
  6. For your eyelids to remain steady during the procedure, a special device, called a speculum, will be used.
  7. To create the pocket, your surgeon uses a thin blade to make a small cut between the white of your eye (the sclera) and the transparent layer covering it (the conjunctiva).
  8. In your eye, a pocket is created for jewelry to be placed inside.

The incision for the jewelry is so small that there aren’t any stitches or seals needed to help you heal your eye.

Around $3,000 is the average price for eyeball piercings.

Jewelry That You Can Use

Hippocratech b.v., an Amsterdam-based company, is currently the only entity from which this implant’s jewelry can be purchased. A platinum alloy implant is made from a platinum alloy and comes in a variety of shapes, including the Euro sign, heart, musical note, clover, or star. The company can also custom-make the shape of the implant. This piece of jewelry is about 3/16″ (1/8 inch) in diameter.

Here is What You Can Expect

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There is a certain discomfort associated with piercing certain parts of the body. Several people have reported experiencing pain when undergoing extraocular implant procedures. Depending on which report you to read, you will either feel a lot of pain or none at all. The reason for this is that everyone is different in terms of pain tolerance. Moreover, the surgeon may reduce the amount of pain the eye feels with the local anesthetic he or she inserts in it. It is also possible to experience itchiness associated with dry eyes for a few days. Usually, the piercing returns to its original size within a few days.

Side Effects and Cautions

There is a risk associated with every surgical procedure. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that people avoid eyeball piercing because there is a lack of evidence about its safety and the risks involved. Likewise, the AAO urges people to refrain from putting anything into their eyes that hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe. As well as warning of complications, the AAO lists the following:

  • infection
  • bleeding
  • permanent vision loss in the pierced eye
  • tearing of the eye

Whenever you insert a foreign object into your body, you increase the risk level of your surgery. It is natural for the eyes to reject anything that enters them since they are among the most sensitive parts of the body.

You are more likely to contract an eye infection even when you wear contact lenses. With eyeball piercings, you’re inserting an extremely thin platinum beam into both or one of your eyes.

Here’s How To Take Care Of It

Following are some tips you should know about taking care of an eye-piercing.

  • You should expect to feel some discomfort after getting your eyeball pierced, such as pain or itching. It may be recommended by your doctor that you take an anti-inflammatory medication to help ease your pain.
  • Take it easy with your eyes for a few days if you don’t have to. As soon as you feel normal again, you can get back to your normal activities.
  • If you touch your eyeball piercing, you can develop a serious eye infection. You should keep anything else that can enter your eye out of your eyes, including contact lenses and dust. Keeping your eyes clean is very important.
  • You will be living with the remnants of your eyeball piercing forever. If you don’t encounter any harm from it, there is no reason to replace it or remove it.
  • If you suspect that you have an eye infection, consult your doctor immediately.

A doctor should be consulted when necessary

After getting an eye-piercing, you will need to make several eye checkup appointments to ensure it stays healthy.

Any complications you have with your eyeball piercing can be detected during these follow-up visits and treated sooner rather than later.

You should schedule an appointment with your doctor right away if the eyeball piercing is extremely painful or if you experience any of the symptoms listed below:

  • bleeding
  • blurring or loss of vision
  • eye discharge that crusts at night and makes it hard to open your eyes in the morning
  • feeling a lack of smoothness in your eyes
  • feeling tired
  • fever
  • intense pain and discomfort
  • tearing or unusually wet eyes
  • redness

If you experience any discomfort due to your piercing, an eye surgeon can have it removed within minutes. However, there are some complications associated with eyeball piercings that are likely to cause permanent eye damage.

Follow up after the procedure is important to observe how your eye feels and looks. Be sure to follow up with your doctor at your scheduled appointment.

The First Extraocular Implant

The first person in New York to undergo the eye-opening surgery was Lucy Luchayanko, a 25-year-old woman. Platinum jewelry in the shape of a heart was inserted into her eyeballs, and she is pleased with the results. She beams, “It’s so cute!” It’s so tiny, so tiny. Lucy says her eye implant gives her an elegant and unique look; she feels that her new appearance is a great conversation starter. A glint of platinum shows from her right eye corner each time she looks up, as the light hits the jewelry just beneath her long dark eyelashes. Lucy’s response to being asked if it hurt was: “No, you won’t feel anything.”

Lucy’s ocular implants were performed by eye surgeon Dr. Emil Chynn, who practices at Park Avenue Laser Vision in Manhattan and is an advocate of cosmetic surgery. As Dr. Chynn, who visited Amsterdam to see the procedure for himself, explains, it’s just another step in the advancement of ophthalmology. Dr. Chynn markets his services under the name “Safe Sight Jewelry”. The procedure costs $3000, but if patients have second thoughts, they will remove the implant for free within a year of insertion. Patients can swap out one shape for another-for $1000-if they get bored with the one they’ve selected. In the month since Dr. Chynn performed his first ocular implant surgery on Lucy, he has received about one inquiry a day from people interested in the procedure. So keep your eyes open, and you may see more people with eye bling, which now gives a whole new meaning to the phrase: “the apple of my eye.” It may not be for everyone, but as they say, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

The Bottom Line

Getting your eyeballs pierced is one of the newest extreme body art trends. Because of the high risk involved, they aren’t common. Even if the chance of becoming an eyeball piercing appears low, you need to learn all you can about the procedure, the risks, and the aftercare. Permanent eye decorations can increase your risk of getting eye infections and eye tears, which can cause vision changes or loss, or even permanent blindness.

You should carefully follow your eye surgeon’s post-surgery instructions after a successful eyeball piercing. If you experience any complications, inform your doctor immediately. Attend all follow-up appointments and report any complications.

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