BY: JESSICA BEUKER
People have long been obsessed with blue eyes. On my trip to Japan, I had people on the street stop me so that they could take a picture of my blue eyes—numerous times. I had a friend in high school that wore coloured contact lenses every single day to change his eyes from brown to blue. And now, people can take the obsession even further.
A new technique, pioneered by Stroma Medical, is currently available in several countries that will permanently turn a patient’s eyes from brown to blue. Sorry green-eyed friends, you’re out of luck. According to Dr. Gregg Homer, chairman of Stroma, in an article with CNN, “the fundamental principle is that under every brown eye is a blue eye. The only difference between a brown eye and a blue eye is this very thin layer of pigment on the surface.” The front layer of the eye, called the stroma, contains melanin, the same pigment that gives skin and hair their colour. To go from brown to blue, all you need to do is remove the melanin.
Homer explains that the procedure itself takes only 20 seconds, but that the blue eyes will not emerge for several weeks.
Stroma Medical has yet to get the green light from the United States. Despite any skepticism, 37 patients in Mexico and Costa Rica have undergone the treatment so far and studies show that the surgery is safe. The laser used treats only the iris, and not any part of the inside of the eye where sensitive nerves are located. The company hopes to complete clinical trials and expand within the next several years.
But don’t line up just yet—Stroma Medical is charging $5,000 for the procedure. That’s a very expensive 20 seconds.
Even with the price, Homer says there is a high demand. According to the article ‘Eye Color Trends in the United States,’ only about eight per cent of people worldwide have blue eyes, a stat that has been continuously decreasing. According to ZME Science, eye colour has an effect on the way we are treated. Theories range about eye colour, some stating that blue-eyed humans in Palaeolithic societies had a better chance of standing out and had better mating opportunities. Another theory suggests that pupil dilation, which is an attraction enhancer, is easier to notice in lighter eye colours, such as blue. Dating back to the Middle Ages, blonde hair, blue eyes and fair skin were indicators of beauty, fertility and success.
Today, people still covet those baby blues. But before you line up and ask for the Alexis Bledel treatment, remember that the procedure is irreversible, as melanin doesn’t regenerate. “All your problems don’t go away because you’ve changed your eye colour,” says Homer in the CNN article, “but I do believe that people like to express themselves a certain way and it’s nice when they have the freedom to do that.”