Laguna Beach, CA--An experimental laser aesthetics (see also the November 2011 issue of Laser Focus World) procedure developed by Dr. Gregg Homer of Stroma Medical Corporation uses a specially tuned laser to destroy the natural brown pigment melanin in the iris--the eye's central colored portion--to turn brown eyes blue permanently. The company is convinced that the aesthetic procedure doesn't affect vision. The laser treatment takes about 20 seconds, with the color change occurring gradually over the next two to three weeks.
The idea of using laser light to change eye color makes sense, 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. "Theoretically, it's possible if you go in and laser the eye to release the pigment that causes brown eyes," he said. But Dr. Tu said safety could be an issue. The released pigment "has to go somewhere," he said, adding that a potentially blinding condition called pigmentary glaucoma is known to be associated with the chronic seepage of melanin into the fluid within the eye.
Although eye color is more easily changed using a pair of colored contact lenses, there are some issues. “Nineteen million people wear colored contact lenses, but light-colored contacts on dark eyes look unnatural and the wearer can't see as well," Doug Daniels, Stroma Medical's CEO, told msnbc.com. And as Dr. Tu said, contact lenses carry risks as well, including the possibliity of serious infections.
The technique is not yet ready for commercial applicability; Homer said that he foresees another year or so of testing, with the technique becoming available outside the U.S. within 18 months and in the U.S. within three years. The procedure is expected to cost about $5,000.
SOURCE: CBS News; www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20129249-10391704/laser-procedure-turns-brown-eyes-blue-scientist-says/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+cbsnews%2Ffeed+(CBSNews.com)
IMAGE: A laser procedure turns brown eyes to blue. (Courtesy CBS News)