Why Do Eyes Change Color?
Editor's Note: Our previously hazel-colored eyes have changed to green, light green at that. We asked our Optometrist, Nina Margolis, O.D., to explain for why this was happening. We have also added a link to the National Institutes of Health article entitled, Your Aging Eyes.
Many people want to change something about themselves, such as improving their looks, their mind, their future. The question, "Can I change my eye color?", was posed to me recently. As an optometrist I was surprised and, at the same time, yet not. Eye color does change sometimes in our lives, so why not try to control it?
Here are some facts about eye color:
Eye color is based on the number and color of pigment granules (melanin) in our eyes. Newborns often have non-pigmented (blue) eyes, which will change and darken in the first six years of life. More or darker pigment means darker eyes, fewer or lighter granules result in lighter eyes. Hazel eyes can appear to change color, due to less pigment and more effect of the exterior environment.
Eye color can change with puberty, likely due to a genetic component. There may be environmental factors that affect eye color. One study states that 10 — 15% of Caucasian eyes change color as they age. Other races have darker eyes, which do not change significantly with age. As pigment in the iris changes or degrades, the eye color usually lightens. However, hazel or blue eyes can darken.
Slight color changes are a normal and harmless part of the aging process, but dramatic changes may indicate an underlying health problem. Ocular diseases which can cause color change are Horner's Syndrome, pigmentary glaucoma and Fuch's heterochromic iridocyclitis. As with most diseases, they are best caught early, as damage is most often irreversible. A visit to the eye doctor is recommended.
Once ocular disease is ruled out, how can one change their eye color? I found several interesting options, several of which were novel.
Soft contact lenses can temporarily change eye color. Be advised that contacts are a foreign object to the eye and can cause discomfort and serious complications; fitting and evaluation by an eye specialist is necessary.
Hypnosis has been reported to change eye color. There have been reports of multiple personality disorders causing the iris to change color. Herbal eye drops reportedly can change eye color, similar to skin and hair lightening herbs. A colon/liver cleanse and a raw food diet reportedly may lighten or brighten the iris eye color.
There is also an eye surgery to implant a colored lens (NewColorIris.com). This procedure is currently being performed in Panama City, Panama, is quite expensive and not FDA approved. The long term effects are not known. However, it is a reversible procedure.
Lastly, there is a new procedure being developed similar to Lasik, involving laser surgery to destroy iris pigment. This will lighten the eye color, but it is irreversible, and again long term effects are not known.
All in all, there are options available to change one's eye color, ranging from diet to expensive surgery. If one is "lucky" enough to have hazel eyes, eye color may change naturally. Your eyes may lighten as you get older, or you may change eye color by artificial methods. Just remember, long term effects are not known; the most important factors are health and good vision.