A laser treatment that can turn brown eyes blue is available thanks to a California-based company called Stroma Medical... as long as you live in Latin America, have $5,000 and don't mind having a laser aimed at your eyeball. The procedure is basically plastic surgery for your eyes - instead of a smaller nose (or just had your deviated septum fixed, like you told your friends), you'd have permanently blue eyes.
Blue eyes have long been a trait of attractive people, but only 17 percent of the world's population has naturally occurring blue eyes. Up until now, colored contacts have been the most accessible way to change your puppy dogs to baby blues.
"The fundamental principle is that under every brown eye is a blue eye," company chairman Gregg Homer told CNN. "The only difference between a brown eye and a blue eye is this very thin layer of pigment on the surface."
"If you take that pigment away, then the light can enter the stroma -- the little fibers that look like bicycle spokes in a light eye - and when the light scatters it only reflects back the shortest wavelengths and that's the blue end of the spectrum," Homer explained.
The procedure takes about 20 seconds, but the effects aren't immediate. The laser disturbs the layer of pigment on the eye and the body removes the layer over the next few weeks.
The United States has not approved the laser treatment yet, but Stroma Medical claims to have completed 17 surgeries in Mexico and 20 in Costa Rica. And the company maintains the procedure is safe.
"It's difficult to work out a way to injure someone with this laser because the energy is so low," Homer told CNN.
Dr. Saj Khan, an ophthalmologist at the London Eye Hospital, told CNN he has some concerns about using a laser to burn off a layer of one of the body's most sensitive organs.
"The main concern with any procedure that involves releasing pigment inside the eye is that the pigment can clog up the normal drainage channels which can in turn cause the pressure inside the eye to go up," Khan said. "If that happens significantly enough, for long enough, it's how patients develop glaucoma."
"(The) theory has some sense to it, but without seeing long-term outcomes and without seeing patients that have been treated in this way I wouldn't commit myself to it," Khan added.
"It's not a goal of our company to promote blue eyes," Homer told CNN. "From my experience what most people are after is the translucence of the blue eye rather than the color of the blue eye."
"The people who seem most vigilant about pursuing this always have a story about being young and in the presence of a sibling or a friend who had light eyes and the friend is being told how beautiful their eyes are and it sticks with them," he continued. "That seems to be something they've carried around with them."
"Would it be better for them to get over it? Probably," Homer told CNN. "All your problems don't go away because you've changed your eye color but I do believe that people like to express themselves a certain way and it's nice when they have the freedom to do that."
To better understand how eyes can look blue in the absence of blue pigment, check out this article about blue eyes and butterflies from HNGN.