When Crystal Gayle sang, “Don’t it Make Your Brown Eyes Blue,” she was lamenting a relationship gone south. Now, almost 35 years later, the song title can be used to describe a new form of laser surgery that permanently transforms one’s brown or hazel eyes blue.
“I’m incredibly excited about it,” Gregg Homer, Ph.D., chairman of the board and chief medical officer of the Stroma Medical told MSNBC. “I have light eyes, and I think brown eyes are just as beautiful as blue eyes. But I started doing this because I thought it was a cool technology, and I thought it would be nice for people to have a choice … ”
The laser procedure disrupts the brown layer of pigment in the iris, causing the body to initiate a natural tissue-removal process. The procedure is then repeated on the other eye. A small ring around the edge of the pupil remains untreated, as the laser does not enter the pupil for safety reasons.
Because the Stroma laser treats the iris alone, the company says it should have no effect on vision, and thus far, this has indeed been the case. In addition, Stroma Medical says no adverse events have been reported to date.
However, several ophthalmologists voiced concerns that burning large amounts of brown pigment may cause inflammation, damage the cornea, cataracts or even glaucoma. Others called for long-term studies to assess the safety of the procedure.
The company says it expects the procedure to be available to the general public outside the United States in about 18 months and inside the United States in about three years with a retail price of around $5,000.