Are Eye Color Implants Safe?

Chris, a husband and father of four, says he has always been unhappy about his eyes being different colors. Although the advent of colored contact lenses have provided a quick and easy way to change one’s eye color for cosmetic purposes, Chris says the readily available lenses did not work for him, and he sought a more permanent solution to his dilemma. 

While on vacation in Brazil with his wife, Chris found a doctor who would perform iris implant surgery – a procedure that is not FDA approved and not available in the United States. Despite his wife’s concerns about the safety of the procedure, Chris decided to undergo the surgery in the hope of finally attaining the look he’d always wanted.

Shortly after the surgery, however, Chris noticed that the whites of his eyes were red, and he began experiencing partial blindness. He says that though he was warned he might experience some discomfort after the procedure, the side effects did not match the expectations he’d been given. He has since recovered, though he says he realizes that undergoing the elective procedure was probably not a good idea.

“[Iris implant surgery] is not done in the United States because it’s not FDA approved,” ophthalmologist Dr. Brian Boxer-Wachler explains. “That doesn’t mean, for any given procedure or implant, [that it’s unsafe], it just means that the company hasn’t gone down that path yet, which is a very expensive and time-consuming path.”

Dr. Boxer-Wachler adds that although he has heard of some success with this cutting-edge procedure, he is also aware of several reports of complications, including cases of glaucoma resulting from excess pressure. As with any new technology, the procedure may become more refined over time.

There are risks of complications with any surgical procedure, and anyone considering going under the knife should be sure to know and understand the risks of doing so prior to surgery.