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Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

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EyeRounds Online Atlas of Ophthalmology

Contributor: William Charles Caccamise, Sr, MD, Retired Clinical Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

*Dr. Caccamise has very generously shared his images of patients taken while operating during the "eye season" in rural India as well as those from his private practice during the 1960's and 1970's. Many of his images are significant for their historical perspective and for techniques and conditions seen in settings in undeveloped areas.

Category: Cornea

Tattooing of Cornea

tattooed cornea

A central corneal leukoma has very effectively been hidden by a pitch- black tattooing ink. In the photo, it is impossible to detect the central tattoo with certainty.

Tattooing of the cornea: a part of eye history

Dr. Caccamise examined several patients at The Kurji Holy Family Hospital Eye Clinic who had had tattooing of a leucomatous corneal scar.

The two reasons for tattooing were:

  1. improved cosmesis
  2. to improve vision by reducing scattering of light with its resulting dazzling.

Of course, the availability of corneas for transplant surgery has relegated corneal tattooing to the historical archives of ophthalmic surgery.

Reference : Duane's Fuchs' Textbook of Ophthalmology, p. 973, 6th edition, 1919. Read this 1067 page treasure- trove of all of ophthalmic knowledge at that time - the Duke-Elder of its day in one thick volume. It is great reading.(1st photo 1964; 2nd photo 1966)

tattooing of the cornea- a part of eye history

tattooing of the cornea- a part of eye history

the India ink tattoo has thinned out centrally.

Same images shown with contrast adjusted

Below are the same images as the two directly above but with brightness and contrast adjusted to show tattooing more conspicuously tattooing of cornea : same two photographs under different lighting and contrast to make tattooed areas mor conspicuous -2 tattooing of cornea : same two photographs under different lighting and contrast to make tattooed areas mor conspicuous -2

Erratic tattoo of corneal leukoma

erratic tattoo of corneal leukoma

Now archaic, it has been replaced by corneal surgery and techniques carried out by the ocularist in collaboration with the ophthalmologist.

Tattooed leukomatous cornea in an eye that is going into phthisis bulbi following unsuccessful cataract surgery

tattooed leukomatous cornea in an eye that is going into phthisis bulbi following unsuccessful cataract surgery

The india ink used in tattooing the leukoma of this cornea has faded in certain spots. The eye is beginning to shrink - phthisis bulbi following an unfortunate reaction to cataract surgery. The tattooing was done to hide the disfigurement resulting from the white scars on the cornea.


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Ophthalmic Atlas Images by EyeRounds.org, The University of Iowa are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

last updated: 02-08-2008
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