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Eye Color Change Surgery: Benefits, Risks & Cost for Surgery
Eye color change surgery is somewhat of a controversial topic. Eye care professionals have been utilizing laser surgery and iris implants in an effort to change eye color permanently, but there are certain risks involved.
In the past, changing your eye color permanently was out of the question. Colored contact lenses were the only remedy for people who wanted to change their eye color.
With recent technological advancements, certain forms of eye color surgery have started to be tested on patients who want a different eye color. STRŌMA Medical Corporation, a U.S. company, is in testing trials regarding a laser surgery that has been shown to change eye color from brown to hazel. Such technology is believed to effectively change brown eye color to lighter brown, gray, hazel, blue, or green.
STRŌMA claims that clinical trials have shown that patients achieve their desired eye color in an average of three to four sessions, the effects of which are likely permanent.
Surgical Procedures to Change Eye Color
There are a couple different options when it comes to changing your eye color, including iris implants and laser surgery.
The iris implant procedure was originally intended to treat people with missing or damaged irises, but it can also change eye color.
Iris implant surgery entails an eye surgeon surgically cutting open the cornea and placing a colored silicone implant. Then, the implant is positioned to cover the iris. This surgery was most often used for those with irises that didn’t develop as they should or people who had damage to the iris due to a traumatic injury.
However, iris implants come with serious risks, and patients have reported adverse events and problems after the procedure. In one case, a patient lost most of her natural irises because of this surgery. Due to the high level of risk involved, the American Academy of Ophthalmology does not recommend getting iris surgery simply to change the color of your eye.
The STRŌMA procedure mentioned above uses low-energy laser technology, which is passed through the eye’s clear cornea. This process slightly heats any brown pigment located on the iris’s front surface. The heating process lightens the brown pigment, and the underlying blue or green color is then revealed.
It’s important to note that the patient cannot choose their eye color with this procedure. STRŌMA says that it can tell patients accurately what the underlying color is before the procedure, so they can get an idea of the results they can expect.
What Are the Benefits of These Procedures?
The benefits of both these procedures are merely aesthetic.
Since the risks are so high for iris implant surgery, including potentially losing vision, the aesthetic benefit of a different eye color does not outweigh the risks. Likewise, there are associated risks of STRŌMA, including the potential for vision loss.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology warns of possible side effects from the STRŌMA procedure. Risks include glaucoma and inflammation of the eye (uveitis). Glaucoma can progress to eventually cause vision loss and even blindness.
Iris implant surgery comes along with risks as well. Some patients have suffered from progressive vision loss after utilizing iris implant surgery for eye color change. This sort of vision loss often stems from glaucoma as well as corneal swelling (also called corneal edema).
Can These Surgeries Really Change the Color of Your Eye?
Despite the risks involved with both surgeries, laser eye color change surgery and iris implant surgery do have the ability to change the color of the eye. However, it’s important to note that the patient does not get to choose their eye color.
Consult with an experienced eye doctor before you plan to get either surgery to assess your personal risks and benefits. Most doctors will advise against these procedures since they involve significant risks for only aesthetic benefits.
How Much Does Eye Color Change Surgery Cost?
STRŌMA states that licensed ophthalmologists performing the procedure set their own prices. For U.S. patients, it is estimated that three or four laser treatments will generally cost $5,000 to $6,000 in total in order to achieve desired results.
Iris implant surgery generally costs between $5,000 and $7,000. However, in some areas of the country, prices may range as high as $10,000.
Can You Reverse Eye Color Change Surgery?
When it comes to laser eye surgery, this procedure will permanently change eye color. The patient will not be able to restore brown eye color once the procedure has been performed. Using color-changing contact lenses is the only way to revert the eye color back to brown at this point.
Iris implants can theoretically be removed or swapped out, but again, these procedures come with a very high risk level.
Cosmetic Change of the Apparent Color of the Eye: A Review on Surgical Alternatives, Outcomes and Complications. (April 2022). Ophthalmology and Therapy.
The Effect of SLT Laser Application on Iris to Treat Sectorial Heterochromia: A Promising Technique. (September 2018). Eye & Contact Lens.
Long-Term Complications of Cosmetic Iris Implants. (November 2022). BMC Ophthalmology.
Cosmetic Iris Implants Carry Risk of Permanent Eye Damage, Vision Loss. (October 2014). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
You Can Now Turn Your Brown Eyes Blue For $5,000. (March 2015). ScienceAlert.
The Price of Beauty: Expensive, Trendy Eye Surgery Comes at a Cost. (February 2019). WTSP Tampa Bay.
Last Updated May 24, 2023
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