In the film Gattaca, a race of genetically pure humans assume the most privileged positions in life. They are also distinguished by uniformly chiseled chins, slicked back hair and often, sparkling blue eyes. Thanks to California-based Stroma Medical, a resident team of medical professionals has devised a new laser surgery procedure that can turn brown eyes blue.
While still pending approval in the United States, the technique is available in several countries and so far 37 patients in Mexico and Costa Rica have successfully undergone the procedure for a mere $5,000 a pop.
And how exactly does this laser surgery procedure work?
The sole difference between blue and brown-eyed people is the amount of melanin in the front layer (stroma) of their eyes. In brown-eyed people, there is an abundance of melanin that absorbs most of the light hitting the eyes. What little light is refracted from brown-eyed individuals is what gives off the appearance of brown. As a result, Stroma Medical’s pioneering laser surgery involves nothing more than the removal of melanin in the iris of one’s eye.
In a recent CNN interview, Stroma Medical’s chairman Dr. Gregg Homer explains that “the fundamental principle is that under every brown eye is a blue eye. 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.”
Although the procedure takes no more than 20 seconds, it takes a few weeks for the body to remove all the dead melanin pigments. While there are those who point to a possible increase in the development of glaucoma later in life as a result of the procedure, Dr. Homer insists the treatment is safe. With only 17% of the population having blue eyes, the demand for this laser surgery procedure will be no doubt high.
So, are you ready to live in a world where everyone dons the same blue eyes?