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Doctor Wants to Change Brown Eyes to Blue by Burning Pigment in Laser Surgery

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Those who've always been envious of 'piercing blues' just may have their wish come true. Or, at least kind of. And it doesn't involve color contacts. A Southern California doctor--and former entertainment lawyer--plans to change brown eyes to shades of blue. It's permanent and involves burning away pigment. Doctor Gregg Homer claims the color-changing eye laser surgery is completely safe. That's despite any real track record.

If it all sounds scary, consider Brit Shenise Farrell who may permanently lose her eyesight after a different type of surgery intended to alter eye color.

More than creepy, it just may be crazy for people to consider undergoing risks associated with altering the eyes in any way. Right now there's no track record of effectiveness. And while the type of surgery is different, the goal is the same: A UK woman claims horrible effects after visiting a Panama doctor who allegedly promised to alter her eye color. Instead she may be facing permanent blindness. The reality is, doctors with even the best intentions just don't know the ultimate outcome.

California doc Gregg Homer at Stroma Medical claims he's devised a laser procedure that removes brown pigment, otherwise known as melanin, from the human eye's iris. Once that brown pigment is removed through a laser procedure, voila: Only the blue color, beneath the brown, remains. Apparently what takes time to physically develop can be removed in just seconds -- the question is, at what cost?

Dr Gregg Homer says the surgical removal of color takes only about 20 seconds. Patients better plan to like the change--once the melanin is removed, it won't grow back. That means the surgery is irreversible. But the lack of reversing color back to a normal state could only be round one.

The Laguna Beach (CA) physician says he's been working on the eye color change surgery for about a decade. The doc claims a range of 15 high-tech or 'sophisticated' tests supposedly ensure no eye tissue damage occurs during the laser surgery process. And he wants that surgery available on the European market within a year and a half, the procedure available in the United States market within three years.

For those who argue that enhancement surgeries are questionable, the thought of changing eye color falls into a whole new realm yet. But maybe even more bizarre than the change of color -- from what nature intended through what's been dubbed the "Lumineye" process -- could be the California doctor's strange reasoning behind having the laser procedure performed in order to remove that brown.

Says Homer, “The eyes are the windows to the soul... this idea that people can actually see into it [through the eyes] — a blue eye is not opaque. You can see deeply into it, and a brown eye is very opaque, and I think that there is something meaningful about this idea of having open windows to the soul," the physician told media and KTLA about the procedure he submitted a patent for back in 2005.

Yes, those with shades of brown may be taking offense.

And despite the good doc's claims, and the fact that Lasik surgery has taken many years to continue to perfect while still possessing its dangers, the claim of no risk remains a bit doubtful. The concept of using a laser to remove anything from, or altering in any way, the eye seems sketchy. As Dr. Robert Cykiert at NYU Langone Medical Center cites, debris created through burning away pigment could clog up the eye's microscopic channels and possibly contribute to or cause risks like glaucoma, from high pressure. His opinion is that any illness like glaucoma could be more than temporary. Cykiert's expressed the thought that the color-changing procedure that burns away 'brown' could also put people at risk for cataracts or permanent vision loss.

In fact there's only been limited human research so far. Stroma Medical's trying to tap into roughly US $800,000 for further medical trials related to the color-altering procedure for eyes. Weirdly (or not weirdly), even the CEO of Stroma Medical allegedly says he wasn't sure about the process when first hearing about it, that he was "very skeptical". But apparently that was then and this is now. And there just may be visions of money signs in-between.

While the Laguna Beach-based doctor Homer seems to claim a total safety factor in the procedure, others in the medical field believe problems related to the color-changing surgery could take up to a decade to reveal. If Lasik surgery serves as any indicator, a look back at the history --and related problems -- seems a solid indicator of the unknown as it related to the human eye and surgeries. Through all the hoopla surrounding the new color-changing surgery, one fact remains to be addressed: Previous eye color surgery attempts actually seem to indicate danger. It wasn't long ago that a British woman appeared in the international media after a horrific experience with a surgery simply meant to change color.

It was 2009 when a UK woman hopped on a plane to Panama after telling family she was going on vacation, all the while holding high hopes of changing her brown eyes to blue. A strikingly beautiful, young black woman ended up with a nightmare of an experience. And that nightmare may be far from over. She could eventually, literally, go blind after the procedure that was simply supposed to alter her eye color. Instead she may lose her sight.

Brit Shenise Farrell calls an implant eye surgery to change color the "biggest mistake" she ever made. Doctors and those in her intimate circle tried to sway the woman from an implant surgery that never received FDA approval in the UK or U.S. But she skipped town and went forward with the procedure anyway, unbeknownst to those close to her. After a $3,000 deposit and a total $8,000 bill for what was supposed to be a color alteration, Dr Delary Alberto Kahn -- inventor of an eye surgery procedure he calls "NewColorIris" -- may end up having stolen Farrell's vision.

Delary Alberto Kahn's version of eye color alteration is different than Dr Gregg Homer's -- but that doesn't mean one procedure is necessarily any less dangerous. Dr Kahn performed an implant with Farrell, physically placing a silicon laser disk over the iris in order to change color. In Kahn's version of color alteration, the patient can choose pretty much any eye color preferred rather than solely blue. Patient Shenise Farrell says the ten-minute operation was very painful, the patient forced to find her own painkillers or method of pain treatment. For eight days, the woman couldn't see through the blurriness and had to be helped onto an airplane simply to go home. After several days of agony once back in her homeland, the Brit was forced to have the implants removed through surgery.

Farrell's been told she could experience or suffer from glaucoma, cataracts, and may even be totally blind in the future -- all because of the color-changing implant surgery she underwent in Panama. It all doesn't seem far removed from what experts in the United States gauge could happen to patients down the line, or what people could experience after having the pigment burned from their eyes.

Gregg Homer claims thousands of people have allegedly contacted the Southern California doctor via e-mail about the prospective procedure. Of course there's probably a market of thousands who would like to live forever as well. Just because there's a prospective clientele doesn't make something safe. In an odd twist, the good doctor is a former entertainment lawyer. No word on whether the good doctor has had the color-changing surgery performed on himself. Something says that's a 'no'.

Location

Laguna Beach, CA
United States
33° 32' 32.0928" N, 117° 46' 59.196" W
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Comments

Hi, I'm the founder of Stroma

February 8, 2012 by Gregg_Homer (not verified), 2 years 45 weeks ago

Gregg_Homer's picture

Hi,

I'm the founder of Stroma and the inventor of its laser eye color procedure. We appreciate (and share) the cautiousness of both physicians and the press regarding safety, but with that caution has come some misinformation about the risk of glaucoma associated with our procedure. To help clarify the issue, we've posted a paper at www.stromamedical.com/Public_Papers/Glaucoma.pdf. And rest assured, we will not release our product unless and until it has been extensively tested, and our internal board of physicians are satisfied that it is safe.

Best,
Gregg Homer, JSD (PhD)