Jewel of the eye: Rising trends of eyeball jewelry

Eyeball jewelry is the latest craze gaining a lot of popularity among the youth. It has met different responses, some with hesitant awe while others react with aversion. It is viewed as a kind of creative expression as tattoos, piercings and other body modification art are, however, risk is associated with all of them. Eyeball jewelry is distinct and new, something so innovative that people will be tempted to try it for sure, but is it worth it?


The idea:

In 2004, surgeons and ophthalmologists of the Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery (NIIOS) released an innovative eye surgery, developed to inject decorative studs under a thin membrane in the eye.

Aside from keeping the implant in position, the clear membrane allows it to be seen easily against the white of the eye. The Institute has released very few pieces of the implants with shapes that include a glittering crescent moon, stars, musical notes, leaves and hearts. Customers can make a request for other shapes. They are calling it JewelEye and already, there is a waiting list for this new edgy accessory.

The process:

So far, six women and one man have undergone the procedure under the charge of the NIIOC team. According to details, the operation happens in strict sterile conditions to prevent infections and takes only 15 minutes to finish. An operating microscope is utilized to ensure the operation goes smoothly. The specially developed jewelry is usually about 3.5mm-wide and of a platinum material. It is inserted into the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane coating the inner layer of the eye lids that is located on the front of the eyeball, after the eye surface has been numbed by a local anaesthetic eye drop.

The Dutch creators say that their procedure is harmless and carries no long term side effects. They have observed patients for more than one year and are optimistic that there is no lasting damage to the eyes. The cost of the procedure adds up to $1,200 in US dollars.

Differing Opinions

The NIIOC Director considers JewelEye a little more subtle than body piercing, but a lot more fun. He regards it as an individual’s personal choice to go in for the procedure.

Offering an opposing view to the positive opinion of the new eye tattoo, are several specialists in the field who disagree with the “safe” label that has so quickly been attached to the JewelEye.

UK specialists think that the JewelEye is dangerous as there is a high probability of the implant causing scarring and bleeding. The tissue in the conjunctiva is not very constrictive so the implant is likely to gain a little freedom to move. If that does happen, inflammation is one probable consequence followed by the scarring of tissue with the possibility of bleeding. Furthermore, this type of surgery can be responsible for eye irritation, not to mention the potential problems from inserting any foreign object beneath the cornea such an erosion of the sclera (the white part of the eye).

Also, the implant could allow bacteria to enter the area beneath the conjunctiva and cause an infection that threatens the person’s vision.

It will be very difficult to remove the implant after the eye has been damaged.

Many specialists in the industry are of the view that it is one thing to trust surgery to improve eyesight, but it is morally repulsive to go in for cosmetic eye surgery. The eyes are a delicate organ and too important to take such risks. Moreover, the surgery hasn’t passed more rigorous testing by renowned institutions to deem it completely safe.

Ultimately, the choice rests with the individual, whether they want to accept the risk to appear unique and distinct to the world.

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