Dr. Neal Palejwala: NBC12 Arizona Black Ink Tattoos & Uveitis

Arizona doctors are treating a rare eye inflammation they say is caused by black-ink tattoos

The thrill of getting a tattoo is enticing to many.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, tattoos — especially black-ink ones — can cause an eye condition called uveitis.

There have been only a total of eight cases reported since the 1950s in relation to tattoos causing uveitis. But Arizona doctors are treating a case now.

Uveitis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

“When you have inflammation in the uvea, we call that uveitis and it can present itself as multiple different symptoms such as vision loss, eye pain, red eye, floaters in the vision,” said Dr. Neal Palejwala, a Vitreo-Retinal Surgeon from Retinal Consultants of Arizona.

Dr. Palejwala said that people ages between 18 and 50 years old are most likely to get uveitis. He added that children are also at risk.

He also said there’s really no specific reason why people could be prone to it, but now the Retinal Consultants of Arizona are treating one of their first cases.

According to RCA, it’s fair to say this is one of the rarest cases in the office’s history, and Arizona’s. Dr. Palejawla said it’s hard to know if there’s an increase in tattoo causing uveitis incidents, but he has seen more and more reports.

“One of my partners saw a patient, who is a 32-year-old male, had a tattoo done a few years ago and ever since 2016 … he has noticed on-and-off eye irritation, pain and decreased vision,” said Dr. Palejwala.

Dr.Palejwala said the patient noticed whenever his eyes would start hurting, his tattoo would inflame and hurt as well.

“We did a laboratory work-up and ruled out common infections that can cause uveitis and those all came back negative, and he really doesn’t have any other history of symptoms that would point us towards other immunological conditions,” said Dr. Palejwala.

At the moment, Dr. Palejwala and his team are still observing the patient and said it seems his tattoo and eyes are doing better after being put on a treatment plan.

There is still not a definite answer just yet, but they are monitoring the case as it goes.

Dr. Palejwala suggested that if people do decide to get a tattoo, to go to a clean, trusted place. If you have an autoimmune disorder or an inflammatory disease, you should checked by a doctor first.