Time to say goodbye to colored contacts? Thanks to a new cosmetic procedure, Americans with brown eyes will soon be able to have their eyes surgically lightened to a presumably more-coveted blue. The procedure's inventor, Dr. Gregg Homer from Laguna Beach, Calif., hopes the "irreversible" laser treatment will be approved by the FDA within three years, so he can offer it to the public at around $5,000 a pop. "People like the depth of a light eye," Homer tells the New York Daily News. "Eyes are like the windows to the soul, and a light eye is like an open window." Is this really something for brown-eyed girls to sha-la-la about? Here's what you should know:
How does the procedure work?
People with brown eyes actually have blue eyes underneath — they're just covered with a thin layer of pigment that makes them appear brown, says Dr. Homer. The procedure simply uses a special laser to zap a patient's cornea, disrupting that melanin pigment. The painless treatment can be completed in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it 20 seconds, says Kimberly Hayes Taylor at MSNBC. The color change then occurs gradually over three weeks.
Is it dangerous?
Possibly. All medical procedures run risks of some kind. A spokesman for the American College of Ophthalmology tells CBS News that the released pigment "has to go somewhere," adding that "a potentially blinding condition called pigmentary glaucoma is known to be associated with the chronic seepage of melanin into the fluid of the eye." Homer insists that the procedure is safe.
Why not just wear colored contact lenses?
Nineteen million people do. But the hope is that the procedure will provide a blue-eyed look that's more natural seeming and doesn't obscure vision the way colored contacts can. Plus, contacts aren't without their own health risks, as anyone who's contracted an eye infection through them can attest.