It is said that “the eyes are the window to the soul.” A person’s eyes are one of the first characteristics we notice when meeting someone new. When it comes to eye color, there are numerous shades of blues, greens, browns, and hazels to be found. Eye color is just one aspect of an individual’s unique look!
Many people wonder if LASIK eye surgery can be used to permanently change eye color. The answer is, quite simply, no; LASIK does not alter the color of the eye. However, there are a few situations where eye color can change that do not involve LASIK eye surgery.
Illness or Medication
The part of the eye structure that gives one’s eye color is called the “iris”. It can be found behind one’s cornea (the outermost clear covering of the eye) and the amount of pigment cells contained by the iris will determine the exact eye color seen by others.
Some medications can cause iris depigmentation (where the iris becomes lighter) or hyperpigmentation (where the iris becomes darker). One common medication linked to changing eye color is LATISSE®. LATTISE® is used to grow and lengthen eyelashes. In rare cases, it has caused a permanent increase in brown pigment in the iris.[i]
Some disorders of the eyes can also lead to permanent color changes in the iris via persistent inflammation or pathological cellular growth. Therefore, if you experience an unintended change in your eye color, it could indicate an eye health issue and you should make an appointment with your eye doctor to have a check-up.
Cosmetic Laser Eye Surgery
Not to be confused with LASIK eye surgery, cosmetic laser eye surgery is a newer experimental procedure that uses a laser to induce permanent changes in one’s eye color. A laser is used to deteriorate the brown pigment cells in the iris, creating a lighter eye color. At this time, it is only possible to change eyes from brown to blue this way. However, this procedure has yet to undergo clinical trial testing in United States and is considered controversial due to potential risks such as glaucoma.[ii] More clinical data will be required to determine its safety and other long-term effects that it may have on treated eyes.
Colored Contact Lenses
As per the current recommendation of American Academy of Ophthalmology, the safest way to temporarily alter eye color is to use colored contact lenses prescribed by your eye doctor.ii[CC1] Colored contact lenses can range from subtle colors, meant to enhance your existing eye color, to dramatic colors, including intense hues and colors not found naturally (like violet). These colored contacts can be prescribed to with your prescription (to both enhance vision and eye colors) or to be prescribed without optical power (serving only to change your eye color such as after your LASIK procedure).
Keep in mind that, just like any other contact lenses, they must be fitted, cleaned, stored, and used appropriately. Leaving contacts in for too long or failing to clean or store them in the right solution can lead to eye health issues.[iii]
Ultimately, if you do choose to alter or enhance your eye color, you should do so safely. If you choose to explore LASIK eye surgery, you can experience improved vision while keeping your eye color perfectly intact!
If you’d like to find out if you are a candidate for LASIK, schedule a free consultation at a location near you.
[i] Can Latisse cause my eyes to change color. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://care.getroman.com/hc/en-us/articles/360025255852-Can-Latisse-Cause-My-Eyes-to-Change-Color-
[ii] Dang, S. (2015). Laser surgery to change eye color untested for safety risks. Retrieved from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/laser-surgery-to-change-eye-color
[iii]American Optometric Association. (2019). Healthy vision and contact lenses. Retrieved from https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/contact-lenses