People may want to change their eye color for all sorts of reasons, and one of the easiest ways to do it is with colored contact lenses. But, that’s only temporary. What about those who want to change their eye color permanently? Can you change your eye color with laser surgery? And, should you?
Laser eye surgery has grown in popularity over the last few decades. Many opt for laser eye surgery—or LASIK—to help correct vision. But can laser eye surgery do more than just correct vision. Some are even using laser surgery to change their eye color.
Laser Eye Surgery Color Change
While changing your eye color with surgery is an option, it might not be the safest way to achieve a color change. To achieve a different eye color permanently, there are generally three surgery options that could be used. These would require a doctor to implant irises or use a laser to lighten the irises, however, these are not recommended or approved by the USDA at this time.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, iris implantation can be incredibly dangerous. Iris implantation can change the color of the eyes permanently, however, the risks involved are extremely high and include eye damage, vision loss, and even blindness. In the United States, iris implants are not approved by the USDA—however—some will go overseas to seek out this operation.
To achieve the color change of the iris, an artificial iris—constructed out of silicone—is inserted into a cut that is made inside the cornea. The artificial iris is placed over the actual iris and adjusted to cover the real iris.
Laser Surgery Sessions
While not as invasive as iris implants, laser sessions are a permanent option to changing eye color. The color change is achieved by destroying the pigment within the irises. This can only be done on brown eyes to lighten them. This is because blue eyes do not have the pigmentation to be destroyed like brown eyes do.
Corneal tattooing is achieved by using a tattoo gun into the cornea. The cornea is the thin part of the eye that covers the iris. This is also not recommended for changing the color of the irises.
Colored Contact Lenses
Getting fitted with colored contact lenses is the safest and easiest option for those who are looking to change the color of their eyes. Your ophthalmologist can fit you for colored lenses that are right for you.
What Is the Job of the Eye?
The main job of our eyes is to allow us to see. The eye takes in the images that are seen and sends signals to the brain. This whole process happens very quickly when looking at something.
How Do Eyes See?
As mentioned, the process of seeing and sending the images to the brain happens quickly. But, it can be described in a few steps, according to the Optometrist Network:
- Light enters in through the cornea
- The pupil adjusts depending on the amount of light
- The lens focuses
- The light is focused
- The optic nerve sends signals to the brain
What Is the Structure of the Eye?
The part of the eyes that are visible has three main parts to the eye—the pupil, sclera, and iris. Each of these plays an important role in how we see and what others see when they look at us—like our eye color.
The sclera is the white part of our eye that surrounds the irises. The sclera is made up of tissues that help to keep the shape of the eyeball. The sclerae also protects the eyeball from injury—and most sclerae injuries heal on their own and do not require medical attention. Sclerae are also covered in conjunctiva which keep the eye moist.
The iris is the part of the eye that holds the color that we see. Blue, brown, green, hazel, and any color variation that people can have. The color of your irises is unique to every person—similar to fingerprints. The muscles within the iris help to control how the pupil changes size when exposed to different amounts of light.
The pupil is the round—usually appearing as black—circle openings in the middle of the irises. The pupils change shape to let in more or less light into our eyes—known as dilating or constricting. Dilating is when the irises appear large and constricting is when they appear small. When it is darker, your pupils will dilate to allow more light in, when it is bright, the pupils will constrict, allowing less light in.
What Impacts Eye Color?
When eye color is being described, it is not the entire eye. The part of the eye that has the pigment is called the iris. The iris is the colored part of the eye surrounding the pupil. Iris colors can range from very light blue shades to deep, dark brown.
Eye colors depend on how much melanin a body produces. Melanin occurs naturally in the body and reflects outwardly in skin color, eye color, and hair color.
Just like with humans, dogs and other animals can have different eye colors and for similar reasons.
Common and Least Common Eye Colors
Brown eyes are the most common eye color worldwide. Depending on where you are in the world, the percentages of breakdown does change. Research conducted found that the majority of people of Asian and African descent have brown eyes, but the shade can vary and there were still those within the population of study participants whose eyes were not brown (however, the iris color variation was not as strong as those in other groups). Those of European descent typically have more variation of eye color than those with other descents. Because eye color can vary based on location and descent, below is the approximate breakdown of eye colors in the United States.
|Eye Color||Approximate Percentage in the United States|
Wanting to Change Your Eye Color?
If you’re serious about changing your eye color, understanding the risks that come with changing them via laser surgery is very important. Always consult a doctor, even for the less permanent option of changing your eye color with contact lenses.
Most people who are serious about changing their eye color probably have an idea of what color they want. And, if you’re just thinking of playing around with a change of eye color—maybe because you’re an actor trying out for a role or you’re getting dressed up for Halloween—try our random color generator to decide on the color of your irises.
Emily is a freelance writer and teacher. Originally from New York, Emily now lives and works in Europe.