Corneal tattoo / Cornea scar or glare surgical treatment - A State of Sight #101

Corneal tattooing is available to help improve the appearance of a corneal scar in a blind eye, or to help improve glare when there are problems with the iris. Watch this episode of A State of Sight with Isaac Porter, MD from Raleigh to learn more about this surgical option.

Welcome to A State of Sight. I’m Isaac Porter and this is your update in ophthalmology and eye care from Raleigh. Today, I would like to explain corneal tattooing which can be a good procedure for patients who have corneal scarring or difficulty with glare.
Normally, the cornea is clear, since it is the shield that covers the front of the eye. In certain situations, like a severe eye injury, the cornea can become white and cloudy. If all of the vision is lost, patients may choose to undergo corneal tattooing to improve the appearance of the eye. Then the patient may feel more comfortable about the appearance of the eye.
Other patients could have problems with their iris, either from an injury or from a surgical procedure in the past. The function of the iris (the colored part of the eye) is to block most of the light that is coming into the eye, so a proper amount of light is allowed to pass through the pupil in the center of the iris.
If too much light is entering the eye or if there is a problem with the iris like an opening or a hole in the iris that shouldn’t be there, we can use corneal tattooing to cover an area on the cornea. This will block light in an area where it shouldn’t normally be passing through. This can improve problems with glare and can make patients more comfortable with their vision.
The way that we use corneal tattooing is pretty similar to how tattoos are placed on the skin. We use inks or pigments and we can get different colors to match the color of the iris in the other eye. We can also use black pigment to simulate the pupil and then, using a needle, we can drive this pigment into the clear cornea with multiple punctures to get it to stay in the cornea.
Although the cornea is thin, it has some thickness, it’s about a millimeter to half a millimeter thick. The pigment is placed and stays in the clear cornea to have the desired effect. Over time, some of the pigment can come out or the tattoo can fade, so it may need to be repeated. Generally, we can have very good results both for patients who need it for cosmetic reasons with a blind eye or for the patients suffering from glare.

If you have any questions about corneal tattooing, please post we will be happy to answer. Hope to see you again soon, next time on A State of Sight.