Nov. 4, 2011 at 9:03 AM ET
The head of a California medical company says he has developed the technology to turn your pretty brown eyes into deep baby blues, like Elijah Wood's.
Gregg Homer, PhD, of Stroma Medical Corporation in Laguna Beach, Calif., says this is possible because everybody has blue eyes already. You just can’t see them.
“Anyone who has brown eyes has blue eyes underneath,” he says, “and it’s covered by a thin layer of pigment. We’ve developed a laser that can be fired straight through the clear part of the eye, the cornea, and it disrupts the pigment so it initiates a process in the body that digests the pigment and it removes it from the eye.”
The procedure can be done in only about 20 seconds while a person sits down, stares into a tiny animated screen while the other eye is covered. When the alternate eye looks into the animated screen, the process is complete.
The eyes don’t turn blue instantly, though. In fact, they get darker for the first week. They begin turning blue in two weeks, and within four weeks, both eyes are blue.
Homer, Chairman of the Board and Chief Medical Officer of the company, says since he was recently interviewed on a Los Angeles television station, he’s gotten nearly 3,000 requests for the procedure.
But people who want it will have to remain patient, because it won’t be available in the United States for about another three years, and about 18 months in Europe and other parts of the world. It’s expected to cost about $5,000.
“I’m incredibly excited about it,” Homer says. “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. I’m glad other people think it’s cool, too.”
Once you turn your brown eyes blue, you can’t change them back, Homer says.
Scientists from the University of Copenhagen reported that originally, we all had brown eyes until a gene mutation occurring between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago led to blue eyes.
“It’s true that brown eyes are covering up blue eyes underneath,” says Dr. Brian S. Boxer Wachler, an ophthalmologist and director of the Boxer Wachler Vision Institute in Beverly Hills, Calif. “It’s an intriguing concept, but what I’m not sure about is the safety and that’s the big question mark on this technology.”
Boxer Wachler says that cases of eye trauma and inflammation also can disrupt pigment on the iris and cause patches of blue to show through. He says before he would use it, he would have to see studies to show it doesn’t cause increased chances of glaucoma or cataracts because of damage to the eyes’ natural lenses.
If it really works and is safe, Boxer Wachler believes -- judging from the hundreds of people pay $7,000 for an eye-brightening procedure he pioneered -- there will be lots of takers.
“They’re already getting their teeth whitened and if this procedure works, we’ll have the irises lightened in the color of the eyes. We are moving in this direction of changing the appearance of the eyes.”