Long seen as a cry for help or way to induce parental tears, eyeball tattoos now serve another purpose: sun protection.
Mandy Liscombe of Swansea, Wales, had her eyeballs surgically inked to help treat extreme light sensitivity — perhaps the first time eye tats were used to diminish rather than enhance the intensity of one’s “glare.”
Liscombe, 63, underwent laser surgery years ago to treat her glaucoma, which is a buildup of pressure in the eye that can cause permanent vision damage. However, her eyes became hypersensitive to light in the process, Swansea Bay Health News reported.
“[It] had a huge impact on me. It affected me when I was watching TV or was in the theater or cinema,” said Liscombe. “Sometimes I felt it wasn’t safe to drive in the dark. I drive early in the morning to go to work and I drive the grandchildren. But once the headlights hit me, I couldn’t really see.”
The rare side effect is estimated to affect one out of every 1,000 people, the outlet reported.
Increasingly worried she was putting her grandkids at risk, Liscombe turned to ophthalmology surgeon Mario Saldanha at Swansea’s Singleton Hospital.
Saldanha determined the problem was caused by the fact that light was now entering inside Liscombe’s eyes twice, “after the laser surgery created an extra, artificial opening,” Inked Magazine reported.
This is where Saldanha’s subcorneal “sunglass” procedure comes in.
“For Mrs. Liscombe, we used a tiny, precise scalpel to create a pocket in the center of the cornea, over where she had the laser,” Saldanha said. “We then put in a layer of tattoo ink and closed the pocket. It’s like having a filter in the clear window of her eye but without affecting the colored part and retaining the artificial opening.”
Liscombe said the results are “Fantastic. Mr. Saldanha has truly changed my life.”
Her surgeon, however, stressed that the procedure shouldn’t be confused with its cosmetic counterpart, which can result in serious eye damage and even blindness.
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