It could be time to ditch those coloured contacts. A company in California has developed a laser eye treatment to turn brown eyes blue - permanently.
20 years after scientist Gregg Homer discovered a base layer of blue pigmentation exists under every brown eye, his business Strōma Medical Corporation is now testing a new colour-changing procedure on patients.
"We all have blue eyes," Strōma's website explains. "In the case of brown eyes, however, a thin layer of brown pigment covers the front surface of the iris (the colored part of the eye). The Strōma laser disrupts this layer of pigment, causing the body to initiate a natural and gradual tissue-removal process. Once the tissue is removed, the patient's natural blue eye is revealed."
The procedure is non-invasive and the full colour change process should take no longer than four weeks.
So, what's the catch? Although the treatment is not currently available to the general public, Strōma has carried out a "preliminary human study" on 37 people outside of the US. There were no adverse side effects evident in the test group, but ophthalmologists say long-term health issues like glaucoma are a major concern.
"Maybe you don't see it immediately, but 10 years down the road it could be a public health problem," Dr. Ivan Schwab, an ophthalmologist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology told Discovery News.
"I wouldn't completely dismiss the procedure; I'm not going to tell you it won't work, but my biggest concern is long-term problems," he added.
If the treatment does become more widely available, there's also the issue of price. The cost of Strōma's surgery is $5,000 (around £3,120).
What's wrong with having brown eyes, anyway?
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