Beauty is in the eye of the beholder — what color that eye is may no longer be immutable. A California doctor is developing the technology for a laser procedure that will turn brown eyes blue. Dr. Gregg Homer of Stroma Medical says a 20-second procedure that removes melanin, the pigment that gives brown eyes their color, will permanently make them blue without affecting a patient’s eyesight — but some are questioning the necessity and vanity of such a surgery nevertheless.
Homer tells KTLA that all brown-eyed people have blue pigment in their irises too — and a quick session under a specially-tuned laser can destroy the melanin in the eye, with the change occurring gradually over two weeks. The procedure can not change blue eyes to brown.
Though Homer says tests show no signs of tissue damage from the procedure, other ophthalmologists aren’t so confident about the procedure. Dr. Elmer Tu, associate professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a spokesman for the American College of Ophthalmology, told CBS News that seepage of melanin into the eye is associated with a condition called pigmentary glaucoma, which can cause blindness. Homer says he expects to do another year of testing before the technique becomes available outside of the United States in less than two years, and within the United States in three.
In the meantime, those wishing to change the color of their eyes can look to a temporary solution: Colored contacts. They carry risk of infections and can cause discomfort, though, which is why Homer has been working to develop a more permanent solution.
The majority of the world’s population has brown eyes, and the number of blue-eyed people is decreasing in America. But it’s unlikely the procedure could reverse that trend: The procedure will cost $5,000. “But who put a price on vanity?” asks The Daily What. Will an eye color change be the new Hollywood must-have procedure, alongside liposuction, breast augmentation and a nose job? Or will the procedure give women new unrealistic expectations of beauty to live up to, à la Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”?