New Indiana Law on Tattooing Eyeballs: We Didn’t See That Coming

July 06, 2018

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Trends come and trends go. But what is universal is that the law is usually playing catch-up with those trends. This is not so when it comes to the concern for tattooing eyeballs. Effective July 1, 2018, tattoo artists will be prohibited under Indiana law from coloring the whites of individuals’ eyes. Known as scleral tattooing, or scleral staining, for the practice of injecting ink between the conjunctiva and the sclera in the eyeball, this practice (if done properly) has the effect of coloring the white areas of the eye.

The new law, which has gone into effect, empowers the Indiana Attorney General to investigate complaints of eyeball tattooing, seek civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation, and to seek civil relief to prevent the practice from continue. This law came about in response to stories about a Canadian model’s attempt to color her eyes purple and the harmful consequences when her procedure went awry. Despite these penalties, the new law does not totally prohibit the practice. Rather, it provides an exception for the practice if conducted by a licensed health care professional when the procedure is performed in the scope of the health care professional’s practice.

However, what makes this law is interesting is not that the General Assembly is passing a law aimed at public safety; it is also not that the law is targeting an obscure practice. Rather, according to the Indiana Lawyer, this law was passed without the legislator sponsoring the law knowing of any harmful incidents in Indiana. Time will tell if this law is nothing more than interesting legal trivia or if it was clear-eye judgment aimed at preventing a public health threat.

Contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP today if you have questions or believe that your constitutional, criminal, or civil rights have been violated. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individual case. Act now and contact us today at 1-800-NOT-GUILTY or (317) 857-0160.