One recent and particularly troubling fashion trend involves surgically implanting small jewelry underneath the surface of the eye. Beyond the notion that this procedure holds no therapeutic value, the jewelry used has not been deemed medically safe by the FDA. While few eye surgeons are offering this potentially harmful procedure, medical experts are alarmed at the serious health risks that this relatively unknown fad can present.

In a recent newsworthy story, Dr. Emil Chin of New York surgically implanted a piece of jewelry in a patient’s eye in front of a live audience. Similar to novelty contact lenses that can change the appearance of the pupil, eyeball jewelry implants give people a permanent and unique look. The main problem with eyeball jewelry implantation is that it requires an invasive surgical procedure. Ophthalmologists and ocular surgeons generally avoid puncturing the retina whenever possible as the slightest mistake can easily lead to complications.

Surgeons either use a laser or a small blade to place the article underneath the superficial conjunctiva, which is the filmy membrane that covers the white of your eye. Once the implant is positioned, the surgeon then carefully sutures the incision site. This procedure serves no practical purpose. It is an elective procedure that comes with a number of risks; however, neither eye surgeons offering eyeball jewelry implantation nor their patients seem to be concerned about its inherent risks. Those interested in eyeball jewelry implantation are directed to speak to their ophthalmologists and consider their options carefully.

Contact lenses, which are applied to the exterior of the superficial conjunctiva, must be properly sanitized and removed after a specific period of time. Minor irritations to the superficial conjunctiva can cause vision to become temporarily blurred until completely healed. While contact lenses can be removed, eyeball jewelry implants cannot be taken out without medical intervention. With eyeball jewelry implantation, there is no guarantee that the procedure will go as planned or that the patient will make a speedy recovery.

The superficial conjunctiva heals naturally over time, but the eyeball jewelry can be rejected by the human body and cause serious internal infections. Implanting a foreign object under the surface of your eye can potentially lead to complete vision loss. This procedure is so new that doctors do not yet know which restorative procedures are best for minimizing damage and restoring eyesight. Injuries associated with this fad surgery include perforation of the eye, conjunctivitis, bleeding underneath the membrane, and blindness from infection.

Eyeball jewelry comes with serious health risks. Get the facts from Orlando ophthalmologist Dr. Membreno at and preserve your ocular health.