London: Want to change your eye colour permanently? You may soon be able to do that, as a US doctor claims to have developed a laser treatment that can turn your brown eyes to blue forever.
Dr Gregg Homer, who claims that 20 seconds of laser light can remove pigment in brown eyes so they gradually turn blue, is now seeking funding to continue clinical trials of his pioneering research that may spell the end of coloured contact lenses.
Stroma Medical, which is set up to commercialise the new process, estimates it will take at least 18 months to finish the safety tests.
However, other eye experts cautioned that the process may cause sight problems if too much light is allowed to enter the pupil of the eye, the BBC reported.
Dr Homer`s 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. When it has hit every spot it then starts again, repeating the process several times. However, the treatment only takes 20 seconds.
"The laser agitates the pigment on the surface of the iris," said Dr Homer, chairman and chief scientific officer of Stroma Medical.
He said: "We use two frequencies that are absorbed by dark pigment, and it is fully absorbed so there is no danger of damage to the rest of the eye.
"It heats it up and changes the structure of the pigment cells. The body recognises they are damaged tissue and sends out a protein. This recruits another feature that is like little pac-men that digest the tissue at a molecular level."
After the first week of treatment, the eye colour turns darker as the tissue changes its characteristics. Then the digestion process starts, and after a further one to three weeks the blueness appears.
Meanwhile, other eye experts have expressed reservations.
"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.
"Having no eye pigment would be like having a camera aperture with a transparent blade. You wouldn`t be able to control the light getting in."
But Dr Homer said that he only removes the pigment from the eye`s surface. "This is only around one third to one half as thick as the pigment at the back of the iris and has no medical significance," he said.
He also claimed patients would be less sensitive to light than those born with blue eyes. He reasoned that brown-eyed people have more pigment in the other areas of their eyeballs, and most of it will be left untouched.
"We run tests for 15 different safety examination procedures. We run the tests before and after the treatment, and the following day, and the following weeks, and the following months and the following three months," he said.
"Thus far we have no evidence of any injury."