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Want to Turn Your Brown Eyes Blue? You Can, But Is It Safe?

We have been so busy with the office move and several Bright Eyes events, that I haven’t written about clinical eye care recently. It is a shame because I have so many things I want to post: new products that are out, educational posts that feature images from my new anterior segment camera, and more. But this is one topic that I found fascinating and have wanted to share for a while now.

For many people, the grass is always greener in other people’s eyes. Well, that’s not exactly right, but there are a lot of people who think they’d like to have a different eye color – be it blue, green, brown, or even purple. For years, the only way to do this was with cosmetic contact lenses. These are like regular contact lenses with paint or dye on them. We fit these on occasion but, but they haven’t improved in technology recently.

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Image from the BBC

Well, now there may be a procedure to permanently change your eye color. A doctor is experimenting with using a laser to remove the brown color from the outside of the iris, the colored part of your eye. This leaves the person with blue eye. I originally read this from the BBC News:

The process involves a computerised scanning system that takes a picture of the iris and works out which areas to treat. The laser is then fired, using a proprietary pattern, hitting one spot of the iris at a time.

So now you are thinking, “I want blue eyes from lasers!” But is this a good idea? I doubt it. Not only are their potential side effects with lasers in the eyes in general in not handle correctly, but also having lots of loose pigment floating around inside your eyes can give you certain types of problems, including glaucoma.

From the article:

“The pigment is there for a reason. If the pigment is lost you can get problems such as glare or double vision,” said Larry Benjamin, a consultant eye surgeon at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, in the UK.
So I don’t think it is a very good idea. But people will take lots of risks if they think it makes them look good. At least ask your regular eye doctor first.

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.
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Why Do Some People Have Blue Eyes ?

People are fascinated by eye color. When I talk to expectant parents, it’s fun to talk about the likelihood of their baby having brown, blue, or green eyes. When Nora was born, she, like many infants, had grayish-colored eyes. Some thought her eyes were blue, but I was pretty sure they would be brown like her mother’s.

What causes specific people to have different eye color? Well, we’ve known for a long time that eye color is genetically based. Recently, however, a team at the University of Copenhagen team has identified the specific gene that determines if someone’s eyes are going to be blue.

Professor Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine explained that “originally, we all had brown eyes. But a genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a ’switch,’ which literally ‘turned off’ the ability to produce brown eyes.” It is estimated that this mutation occurred 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.

People who have brown eyes have a lot of a pigment called melanin in the iris. (This is the same pigment that gives some people darker skin color than others.) People with green eyes have less melanin in their irises than brown-eyed people, and people with blue eyes have the least amount of melanin.

Evidence now shows that all blue-eyed people have a common ancestor. The genes that control eye color have significant variation, but the gene responsible for blue eyes is much more specific. In the group studied, blue-eyed people had all inherited the same switch at exactly the same spot in their DNA.

This doesn’t mean that anyone has any more control over whether their children are going to have blue eyes or not, but we do have a better understanding of why I have blue eyes, but my daughter does not.

Be Well!

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care

 

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