Currently, if someone wants to change their eye color, they're limited to using colored contact lenses. However, Dr. Gregg Homer, a US physician, is currently testing a laser that will permanently change eye color from brown to blue.
The laser uses 2 frequencies of light that are absorbed by dark color, and the dark pigment is heated and destroyed, and eventually removed. Homer's company, Stroma Medical, says the laser energy is completely absorbed by the pigment and does not damage the rest of the eye. In the first week post treatment the eye color turns darker. Then, in the next one to three weeks, as the pigment (melanin) is absorbed, the eye turns bluer. Since the melanin does not regenerate, the change is permanent.
There are significant safety concerns that have been expressed about this procedure. Some have said that the pigment is there for a purpose, and fear that removing it will impair the ability of the eye to control the amount of light that enters. Dr. Homer responds that the treatment only removes the pigment from the surface of the iris. He said that this is only 1/3 to 1/2 of the thickness of the pigment on the back of the iris, and has no medical significance.
The initial tests were done on animals. The human tests were first done on cadavers, and in August 2010 tests were begun on human subjects in Mexico. All the Mexican patients were very nearsighted, and were offered free lens transplants for participating in the study. Seventeen people have been treated so far, and they are extensively monitored for safety concerns before and after the procedure. The company hopes to launch its product overseas in 18 months, and to launch in the US in about three years.
Gerald N Bock MD
Stockton & Lodi, CA