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Is there a way to change your eye color without surgery?

Eyes are often called the windows to the soul. Their color gives clues to our ancestry and genetic makeup. For many, eye color is an important part of identity and self-expression. But some may wish to change their natural eye color to something they feel represents them better. Contact lenses provide one temporary option. In recent years, some questionable and potentially unsafe methods for more permanent eye color change have emerged. But is there any safe, effective way to change your eye color without surgery?

How Eye Color is Determined

Human eye color originates with the amount and type of melanin pigment in the iris. Melanin comes in two forms: eumelanin which produces brown/black shades, and pheomelanin which produces yellow/red shades. Most eyes contain a mixture of both, with brown eyes having more eumelanin and blue eyes having less of both. Green and hazel eyes have a blended mix of melanin types and amounts.

Other factors like stroma composition, light scattering, and melanocyte cell density in the iris also affect final eye color. The OCA2 and HERC2 genes are strongly associated with eye color determination. Environmental factors like sunlight exposure can also influence melanin production and eye color over one’s lifetime. So eye color is a complex phenotypic trait influenced by multiple genetic and external factors.

Contact Lenses

One temporary and reversible way to change eye color is with color contact lenses. These cosmetic lenses alter the appearance of your natural eye color when worn over the cornea. Contact lenses come in a wide range of colors and effects like enhancing natural eye color, creating dramatic looks, or mimicking exotic eye colors like violet. They can make light eyes appear darker or dark eyes appear lighter. Here are some pros and cons of colored contact lenses for changing eye color:


  • Instant eye color transformation
  • Reversible – natural eye color returns once lenses are removed
  • Variety of color options
  • Relatively affordable
  • Little recovery time or side effects for most wearers


  • Not a permanent solution – color effect only lasts while contacts are worn
  • Can be uncomfortable for some wearers
  • Risk of eye infections or complications if not properly cared for
  • Need a prescription and fitting by an eye doctor
  • Colors may not appear natural on some people

Overall, colored contacts offer a temporary, non-surgical way to experiment with and change your eye color. But results may not match expectations for all people. Always consult an optometrist to find lenses suited to your eyes.

Permanent Eye Color Change Methods

For permanent eye color change without surgery, some alternative methods have been tried with questionable effectiveness and safety. None are universally clinically proven or approved.

Laser or Light Treatments

Some clinics offer non-invasive laser or light treatments claiming to permanently change eye color by breaking up pigmentation. But there is no scientific evidence that currently available lasers selectively target melanin in the iris enough to significantly alter eye color without potential risk of eye damage from overtreatment. Regulatory bodies like the FDA have not approved any lasers for cosmetic eye color change.

Medications and Supplements

Certain oral medications like Latisse (bimatoprost) or prescription drugs containing prostaglandins are promoted to permanently change eye color by dilating blood vessels or affecting melanocytes. Dietary supplements containing extracts like chlorophyll, turmeric, or taurine also claim adjusting properties. But there is no conclusive clinical research that any oral medication or supplement can safely and permanently change natural eye color in humans. In some cases, prostaglandin eye drops prescribed for glaucoma have coincidentally led to pigmentation changes.

Method Mechanism Effectiveness Safety
Lasers/Light Treatment Break down iris pigment No evidence of permanent color change Potential for eye damage
Medications/Supplements Affect melanin production No proof of long-term color change Lack of research on risks

Tattooing the Iris

Permanent makeup tattooing can alter the pigmentation patterns of the iris to change eye color, often layered under the surface for a natural effect. This is considered safer than laser treatments. But it still carries risks like infection, scarring, bleeding, corneal damage, glaucoma, and loss of vision if improperly done. Long term color stability is also unpredictable. Ocular tattooing is not recommended by medical experts solely for cosmetic eye color change.

Is Surgical Eye Color Change Safe and Effective?

The only current medically proven way to permanently change eye color is through surgical procedures like laser-assisted iris color implants (BrightOcular surgery) or iris tattoos (BrightEye surgery). During these, a laser penetrates the iris fibrous layer and deposits artificial pigments to alter color.

This does permanently transform natural eye color with measurable results. But there are cautions to consider:

  • High cost – $5,000-$8,000 USD per eye
  • Not reversible
  • Potential complications like infection, cataracts, corneal damage
  • Multiple treatments needed for optimal effect
  • Long-term safety and effects not fully studied
  • Not approved by FDA for cosmetic enhancement

For many, such surgeries should be a last resort compared to safer options like colored contacts. Thoroughly research the risks and consult a qualified ophthalmologist. Avoid procedures marketed as permanent eye color change without proven safety data. Changes to physical appearance do not inherently improve self-image or life conditions. Assessing motivation can uncover deeper issues to explore.

In Summary

While no completely safe and permanent non-surgical method to change eye color currently exists, some options create short-term effects. Colored contact lenses provide the easiest way to temporarily transform eye color with minimal risk when properly fitted and cared for. Claims around lasers, medications, supplements, and iris tattoos changing color permanently lack robust clinical research and harbor significant safety concerns. Surgical procedures like BrightOcular implants remain the only proven permanent solution, but carry greater risks requiring careful consideration. Consult eye doctors for advice specific to your eyes and expectations. And consider reasons for wanting to change this unique inherited trait.

Eye color does not define identity or worth. Other ethically grounded and positive ways to express individuality can boost confidence and satisfaction without permanent bodily alteration. Focusing inward on self-acceptance and outward on contributing to others can help fulfill aspirations. With realistic expectations about drawbacks, contact lenses give relatively safe temporary effects. But carefully weigh any pressures or perceived need for permanent eye color change against social norms. Believe that you are beautiful, capable, and worthy just as you are.