Photo: Sellwell/Shutterstock

New Surgery Can Turn Brown Eyes Blue

by Anne Merritt Nov 11, 2011
I bet Oprah will have some opinions on this.

A Korean student of mine came to class one day with big saucer pupils like a Japanese doll.

“I bought blue lenses,” she said, pointing to her oversized irises which were murky, spooky blue. She probably spent a lot of saved-up allowances on the colored contacts. “Now I look like you!”

In fact, she looked like the girl from The Ring.

Depressingly, after a few more decades of allowances, she might be able to laser her peepers blue.

A California doctor has created a laser procedure to permanently change the color of brown eyes. For the past yen years, Dr. Gregg Homer has been developing the technology to remove the brown pigment from the surface of the iris. Even dark-eyed people have blue pigment underneath the brown in their eyes. That blue is revealed a few weeks after the procedure, when the body sheds the altered brown tissue. Dr. Homer told Los Angeles radio station KTLA that the surgery should be available within 18 months.

As a scientific development, yes, Dr. Homer’s laser work is impressive. I’m more concerned with the social effect of this procedure.

We’ve read the Marie Claire op-eds. We know that cosmetic surgery is more popular now than ever before. The whole debate of whether it helps or harms us psychologically is a minefield of differing opinions. So be it. The trend that doesn’t sit well with me is the rising number of black and Asian people getting bleached, planed, and altered. In these surgeries, it seems the patients are not just seeking beauty, but seeking the pale and light-eyed European version of it. In creating a procedure that can turn brown eyes blue, but not the other way around, Dr. Homer is feeding the notion of a one size fits all Aryan beauty mold.

In her not so distant future, that teenaged Korean student of mine will likely spend huge sums of money on whitening skin creams, get eyelid surgery for wider-looking eyes, and maybe a nose job or jawline surgery for a more angular look. She may have her grandmother’s eyes. She may alter them with little hesitation, if this surgery spreads to South Korea.

On this issue, Globe and Mail writer Dakshana Bascaramurty said it perfectly. “It’s 2011, the population of North America is as diverse as it has ever been, and we’re still on a quest to make everyone fit the same beauty mold?”

Based on Dr. Homer’s lengthy waiting list, it seems the answer yes.

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