If you had the option to change your eye color — would you?
Now think about the question again, this time under two conditions: you’d have to pay $5,000 and undergo brief laser surgery. Would you still do it?
It’s obvious many people’s answer would flip. But one doctor thinks his method will attract a following. Gregg Homer, a California doctor, says he’s worked 10 years to perfect a laser treatment that can irreversibly turn brown eyes blue.
Homer believes that the eyes are the “window to the soul,” with blue being a preferred hue that looks less opaque than darker colors. In essence, he says, blue eyes allow others to look more deeply into them.
Here’s how the “20-second long” laser procedure works: A computer scans the iris and uses a laser to disrupt the brown pigment on the surface of the eye. Since blue pigment lies beneath the brown pigment, removing the outer layer of melanin can reveal a bluer look behind it. Since the brown pigment is damaged and will not regenerate, Homer says, the eye removes it naturally, according to one BBC article. Between two and three weeks later, the pigment lightens up, eventually transforming brown eyes to blue.
While addressing questions about the risks associated with the procedure, Homer told KTLA, a news station in Los Angeles, that he uses 15 “sophisticated” tests to ensure that no tissues are damaged. But in the very next sentence, he says, “Is it possible that something comes down the road? It’s possible.”
Unless the video was edited completely out of context, the previous statement suggests that Homer does not know the long-term effects of his laser treatment — a glaring problem other doctors point out in one ABC News article.
One NYU eye specialist, Robert Cykiert, told ABC News that the procedure is “probably risky.” He also said:
“When you burn the brown pigment away with a laser, the debris that is created in the front of the eye — think of it as ashes resulting from burning anything — is likely to clog up the microscopic channels in the front of the eye, known as trabecular meshwork,” said Cykiert. “
Ironically, one of the treatments for glaucoma is more surgery.
So far, Homer says he has worked on the technique in animals, cadavers and human participants in Mexico. The method, called Lumineyes has been launched under Homer’s business, Stroma Medical Corporation (as of November 2011, neither site lists anything other than an email address).
He estimates the procedure will be available outside the United States in as few as 18 months, while it may take longer to gain approval in the states.
Also, it appears the technology only works to change from brown to blue, not other colors. Homer writes in one of his first patents that color eye contacts as well as implants aren’t permanent enough for people desiring pretty blues.
Photo by Dottie Mae/Flickr.com