How to Change Your Eye Color

Extreme Close-Up Of a person's Eye
Ekaterina Khudyakova / EyeEm / Getty Images

Lots of people desire bright, blue eyes. Blue colored eyes are considered a positive and attractive attribute. Did you know that only 17% of people in the world have blue eyes? What makes blue eyes more attractive? Some feel that bright blue eyes make a person stand out. Others feel that blue eyes are simply more beautiful. Most people agree that a blue-eyed man or woman is visually stunning.

Permanently Changing Your Eye Color

New procedures are now available to permanently change your eye color. For years, people have asked eye doctors for colored contact lenses. Wearing colored contact lenses can be fun, but some people are either not satisfied with their new eye color or do not feel it looks natural enough. Although the latest FDA approved colored contact lenses are better than ever, there is some limitation to how natural a contact lens can make your eye color appear. Some people want to change their eye color so badly that they go to great lengths, even undergoing dramatic cosmetic surgery, to achieve it. However, most doctors are keeping a wait and see attitude, as some of these procedures carry significant risks for medical eye problems.

Iris Implant

One eye color changing procedure performed mainly outside the United States involves implanting an iris prosthesis on top of the iris. These implants are not secured to the eye, so as the body bounces around, the prosthesis could potentially move around and bump against the iris and the back side of the cornea. The iris is easily disturbed and if a foreign object rubs against it, it could induce a significant amount of inflammation in the eye. It could cause uveitis, in which white blood cells begin to rush to the anterior part of the eye.

This immune response can cause scarring, increased eye pressure and a host of other medical eye problems. The implant could also cause damage in the angle of the eye where fluid is filtered out of the eye. If this filter, called the trabecular meshwork, becomes damaged, eye pressure can increase and glaucoma may develop leading to vision loss. If the implant bumped into the cornea, the back layer of cells could become damaged and the cornea could swell. The cornea could swell to a point where vision becomes significantly decreased. Cataract, a clouding of the lens of the eye, has also been known to develop secondary to iris prosthetic implantation. Most eye physicians are discouraging implantation of these devices at this time.

Laser Technique

Another eye color procedure receiving a lot of attention is being developed by a company called Stroma Medical in California. The procedure uses a low energy laser to disrupt the top layer of pigment on the iris. This causes scavenger cells to remove tissue. The procedure only takes between 20-30 seconds per eye. The company affirms that the procedure is very safe because it is a low energy laser. Over the course of about two to four weeks, a brown eye will turn blue permanently. This is possible because in reality, different colored eyes are actually made of the same melanin pigment. A blue eye just has much less pigment present than a brown eye. Once this top layer of pigment is removed, the eye appears blue.

Although this procedure seems promising, many eye doctors have some concerns. Because the procedure liberates a significant amount of iris pigment, this released pigment can clog up the trabecular meshwork, thus increasing eye pressure and possibly developing pigmentary glaucoma. Stroma Medical is conducting on-going studies to assess the safety and efficacy of this procedure.

What You Should Know

Until we know more about the safety of eye color changing procedures, your best bet is to be happy with the way you are. Alternately, visit your optometrist to see if you can wear cosmetic colored contact lenses. Wearing contact lenses carries some amount of risk, but it is a safer and reversible method of changing your eye color.

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Article Sources

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  1. Laser procedure can turn brown eyes blue. Updated March 6, 2015.

  2. Hoguet A, Ritterband D, Koplin R, et al. Serious ocular complications of cosmetic iris implants in 14 eyes. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2012;38(3):387-93. doi:10.1016/j.jcrs.2011.09.037

  3. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Cosmetic iris implants carry risk of permanent eye damage, vision loss. Updated December 29, 2014.

  4. Stroma Medical. Change.

  5. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Laser surgery to change eye color untested for safety risks. Updated April 7, 2015.

Additional Reading

  • Ajamian PC. When iris eyes aren’t smiling. Review of Optometry. February 15, 2015, p 30.