Implants Can Change Eye Color, But Are They Worth The Risk?
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Toryn Green always wanted blue eyes.
"A lot of the different movie stars," Green said, "Mel Gibson, Brad Cooper, all these guys, they all have these beaming blue eyes. People tend to gravitate toward blue eyes."
For Green, an actor and musician, the attention they bring is priceless. But he wasn't born with these baby blues. He was born with hazel eyes.
"I basically got on a plane, flew to the other side of the world where I didn't know anybody to have a stranger put blades in my eyes while I was awake," Green said.
He changed his eye color with a silicone implant called Bright Ocular that is placed inside the eye in front of the natural iris.
"These are very risky procedures," ophthalmologist David Wallace said.
Iris implants are not approved by the FDA, so doctors in the United States don't offer them.
Wallace agreed to examine Green's eyes and help explain how the implant works.
"It has an opening in the center that allows light to pass through," Wallace said.
To the naked eye, Green's implants are nearly impossible to spot. Even up closer, detecting them isn't easy. But with the help of Wallace's light and instruments, the Bright Ocular implants come into focus.
"Everyone seems to love the results," Green said.
Well, not exactly everyone.
"I would not choose to have this for my own eyes, so I would not recommend it to you," Wallace said.
The doctor's examination found no issues with Green's eyes. There are no signs of damage, and his vision is nearly perfect.
"What we know is his eyes seem to be tolerating the implants well," Wallace said. "What we don't know is what the downstream risk is."
Green's surgery was done in India. That's a problem, Wallace said. "If you have any problem at any time down the road, you're on your own."
And there have been reports of problems with with iris implants. An eye surgeon in London posted a YouTube video of showing damage to one patient when a Bright Ocular implant had to be removed four years after it was placed.
Green says he went into the surgery with his eyes wide open about potential risks.
"I researched it for a good eight months or so before I decided to pull the trigger," he said.
"I have no regrets. Not one doubt," Green said. "I always wanted to have blue eyes, and the fact that is now scientifically possible is exciting to me."
Bright Ocular implant surgery costs $5,000-$7,000. Because it's only offered overseas, it's impossible to confirm how often complications arise.
The company said it is working to get government approval overseas. Once that happens, it will begin trials in the United States in hope of getting FDA approval.
For more on Toryn Green and his experience, go to www.toryngreen.com.
For more on BrightOcular, go to www.brightocular.com.
You can reach Brentwood ophthalmologist David Wallace at http://www.la-sight.com/.
Produced By Gerri Shaftel Constant, CBS2 medical producer.
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