Policyholder Services

I would like to perform corneal tattooing on patients with iris abnormalities. Does OMIC cover this activity?

Yes. Coverage is available under OMIC’s Surgery Class 1 and higher rating classifications.

Corneal tattooing has been used therapeutically to help manage glare due to defects of the iris, whether congenital, resulting from trauma, or following laser iridotomy. It has also been used cosmetically to improve the appearance of corneal scarring. Because no pigments are FDA-approved for use in the eye, those who perform corneal tattooing instead use skin tattoo pigment. Some ophthalmologists have expressed concerns regarding the sterility of these pigments.  Unlike suture materials, pigments are not sterilized. There are a few companies that can take their standard tattoo pigments and sterilize them for clients. Concerns have also been raised about the possibility of an inflammatory response to the pigment since the pigment is a protein.  Although they can occur, reactions from pigments, as with suture materials, tend to be rare.  Additionally, the results of corneal tattooing may not be cosmetically appealing given the difficulty in controlling the spread of the pigment, both on the cornea and into the adjacent conjunctiva.

Tattooing techniques have given way in many instances to surgical repair of the iris for small defects. The microsurgical techniques are also being used to close peripheral iris clefts and to reduce the pupil diameter.  For larger defects including patients with aniridia, there is one FDA approved artificial iris, the CustomFlex Artificial Iris, which can be utilized.

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