A new laser technique has the power to change your eye color. (Photo: Getty Images)
Move over color contacts, there’s a new laser on the block that can change the color of your eyes—permanently. Strōma Medical has developed a procedure that can change your eye color from brown to blue.
“Under every brown eye is a blue eye, says Dr. Gregg Homer, chairman and chief scientific officer at Strōma Medical. “The only difference between them is that a brown eye has a thin layer of pigment covering the blue iris.” The technique, which is currently undergoing a clinical trial, is non-invasive. Homer says it initiates a natural process in the eye where the body uses scavenger cells to digest and remove the pigment from the iris surface.
“We apply a computer-guided, low-energy laser to the iris to disrupt the brown pigment,” says Homer. “We use a specific laser frequency that passes through the clear cornea of the eye and is selectively absorbed by the dark pigment covering the iris.” The procedure takes 30 seconds, and around two weeks later the pigment will be removed, leaving you with pools of blue.
The low intensity laser hasn’t been approved yet in the US and only a handful of patients have undergone the procedure in Mexico and Costa Rica, with more to come in Costa Rica and the Philippines. Homer explains that the trial will follow a total of 100 patients for a full year. “We tried to anticipate every possible safety risk when we designed our laser device, and we were satisfied that the procedure would be safe before we treated our first clinical patient,” he says. “So far, we have successfully removed all of the pigment from the iris surfaces and none of our clinical patients have suffered any pain, injury, or discomfort of any kind.”
Dr. Ivan R. Schwab, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and professor at UC Davis, says that there is always a risk when you have an eye procedure, and with this one in particular that changes eye color, glaucoma is a concern. “Maybe you won’t see the effects immediately, but problems may occur 10 years down the road,” he says.
As for the alternative, there is still a risk. “If someone wanted to change their eye color, colored contacts that you get from an ophthalmologist or other eye care professional could be worn to change eye color,” says Schwab. “But you have to make sure you get the contact lenses fitted properly, because those available over the internet or over the counter may be of poor quality or poor fit and at a higher risk for problems.”
If the Strōma Medical procedure is approved, it will likely come with a pretty steep price tag: it’s estimated that baby blues will cost you a cool $5,000. For now, you might want to embrace what you were born with.