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Eye Color Change Surgery: Is It Safe?

Medically Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on July 17, 2020

Ever wished you could permanently change your eye color? You may have heard about surgeries that promise to turn your eyes whatever color you want. But they might not be the safest. Here’s why.

Iris Implants

This procedure is meant to help people with missing or damaged irises. An eye surgeon cuts open your cornea (the clear layer in front of your iris) and puts in a colored silicone implant. They then unfold the implant to cover your iris. Studies show serious problems in people who’ve gotten iris implants. They include:

You might have to get another surgery to take the implants out. Or you may need a cornea transplant if yours is damaged.

Most of the people in one small study had issues after surgery. A social media personality lost most of their sight in another case.

Because of the risks, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is against getting it just because you don’t like your eye color or want something different.

Laser Surgery

This procedure changes your eye color by destroying the pigment, or color, cells in your iris. When they go away, brown eyes look blue. That’s because blue eyes don’t have any pigment. It can only be done on brown eyes. Like any surgery, there are possible side effects. Glaucoma and uveitis are two of them. This procedure isn’t approved in the U.S.

Other Options

Prescription colored contact lenses are a safer choice. Talk to an eye doctor if you’re thinking about getting them. They’ll help you decide what’s best for you.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Cosmetic Iris Implants Carry Risk of Permanent Eye Damage, Vision Loss,” “Laser Surgery to Change Eye Color Untested for Safety Risks,” “Week in review: Botched surgery, shoebox-sized scanner, ASCRS president.”

Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery: “Postoperative Results of Cosmetic Iris Implants.”

National Eye Institute: “Corneal Conditions.”

Mayo Clinic: “Uveitis.”

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