Doctors warn about risks tied to cosmetic procedures to change eye color

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Thursday, February 22, 2024
Doctors warn about risks behind cosmetic procedure to change eye color
Doctors are warning against the cosmetic procedures of keratopigmentation and iris implant surgery to change eye color due to health risks.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Doctors are issuing warnings about the risks involved with a trending cosmetic procedure to change the color of your eyes.

The concept is generating buzz on social media, but experts warn it could lead to vision loss and other complications.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology says the new eye-popping beauty trend may pose risks.

"There are real medical needs for these devices because there are people who really are suffering. However, the more recent buzz has been about doing it for cosmetic purposes. And that has brought up all sorts of other questions," said Dr. Matthew Gorski, an ophthalmologist.

Researchers are warning about the dangers of two cosmetic eye color-changing procedures, which are garnering attention on social media.

"So these are two very different procedures. The first one, iris implant surgery, we actually make an incision into the eye and then actually insert a silicone implant that has a color and mimics the color of the eye," Gorski said.

The second procedure is called keratopigmentation or eye tattooing.

"What we do with that, we make, either manually or with a laser, we make an incision in the cornea to create a space. And then with that, we inject dye into the cornea," Gorski said.

Iris implants are FDA-approved for patients missing some or all of the colored part of the eye because of injury or birth defect.

But the AAO recommends people thinking about iris implants or eye tattooing as a purely cosmetic procedure should talk to their ophthalmologist to fully understand the risks, which doctors say can outweigh the benefits. Risks include infection, dye leakage into the eye and even blindness.

"We're concerned about infection, light sensitivity. You're at risk for eye pressure issues like glaucoma, cataract. You can have direct or indirect damage to the cornea, and you're even at risk for loss of vision and blindness with these surgeries," Gorski said.

But there is a safer alternative for those who want to change their eye color.

"If someone is interested in changing the color of their eyes, the safest way to do that may be with color contact lenses. If you're interested in color contacts, it's important to see your eye doctor and get prescription colored contacts," Gorski said.