Getting eyeball tattoos to be illegal in Washington state

Bill will ban the procedure of scleral tattooing

  • Wednesday, April 17, 2019 10:36am
  • News

By Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau

The state Senate voted on Tuesday to make the procedure of scleral tattooing illegal in Washington State. The bill passed the House on March 8 in a 94-4 vote.

Scleral tattooing is the process of scarring or inserting pigment into the human eye, typically the white of the eye. Sclera is the white outer coating of the eye and extends from the cornea to the optic nerve at the back of the eye.

Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, was the only member of the Senate to vote against the measure. Consenting adults should be able to do what they want, Wagoner said. He pointed to the fact that many dangerous activities are legal – like rock climbing for example – and to be “philosophically consistent” he voted against the measure.

House Bill 1856 would subject violators to a civil penalty determined by the court. The procedure is already banned in Indiana and Canada. The Department of Licensing could also take disciplinary action against tattoo artists who perform the procedure.

Dr. Aaron Lee, a retina surgeon, testified in support of the bill when it was in committee as a representative of the Washington Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons.

The main concern for Lee, which was echoed by legislators, is someone without the proper medical and surgical training or correct instruments could easily damage the retina. The procedure can cause retinal detachment and infection, which could blind the individual or even result in complete removal of the eye.

“As it’s becoming more popular, we’re starting to see reports of the consequences of these things, not only in the news media, but also in our medical literature,” he said. “I don’t think we should wait to see somebody go blind.”

The legislation now heads to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee, who is expected to sign it into law that will go into effect 90 days after the legislative session adjourns.

WNPA reporter Madeline Coats contributed to this report.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

t
Man identified who died of medical emergency in Kent while driving car

King County Medical Examiner’s Office rules death of natural causes in 132nd Avenue SE crash

t
Man, 29, fatally shot on Metro bus in Kent identified

No charges filed against shooter who reportedly acted in self-defense

t
Aegis Living Kent earns Joint Commission memory care certification

Program designed to enhance the care of residents who suffer from memory-impacting conditions

t
New Puget Sound Fire engines to hit Kent streets | Photos

Kent will get four new vehicles for East Hill, city of SeaTac one

Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO
Discarded cigarette leads to arrest of Kent double homicide suspects

DNA reveals man, woman who reportedly killed two people in January 2023 at local motel

t
State Patrol chief thanks public for support of trooper shot in Kent

Trooper’s injuries are not life threatening despite being shot multiple times

t
Boy, 17, fatally shot in Kent in exchange of gunfire identified | Update

Shooting between subjects in vehicles Feb. 20 along East Valley Highway near South 180th Street

Car damaged by bullets during Feb. 19 Interstate 5 shooting. (Courtesy of Washington State Patrol)
King County Councilmember wants more info about I-5 shootings

The letter, addressed to WSP Chief John R. Batiste, comes in wake of a Feb. 19 drive-by shooting that occurred on I-5 in Tukwila that left a victim in critical condition.

t
Kent man, 83, dies after medical emergency while driving on East Hill

Reportedly died from medical issue prior to single-car crash Feb. 2o along 132nd Avenue SE

Rep. Mia Gregerson. COURTESY PHOTO, Legislative Support Services
Gregerson state bill aims to improve immigration support

Designed to better address needs of refugees, immigrants arriving in Washington state

t
Federal Way man faces charges for shooting, injuring trooper in Kent

Trooper reportedly shot nine times Feb. 16 after a struggle following foot pursuit

Courtesy image, U.S. Department of Justice
Kent man pleads guilty to selling guns to those with criminal histories

Sold more than 100 firearms to those barred from possessing guns