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  • Writer's pictureDr Anne Malatt

Can you change your eye colour?

Updated: Apr 30


DrPhoto of a beautiful womans' eye for article by Dr Anne Malatt on  "Can you change your eye colour?"

The short answer is that there is no safe and reliable way to change the colour of your eyes and here is why.

Your eye colour is truly beautiful and unique. Nobody else in the world has eyes with the exact same colouring and patterning as yours. They are your distinctive signature that the world knows you by and the windows to the Universe inside you. You receive the world through your eyes and you express yourself to the world with your eyes. Why would you want to change them?

What gives our eyes their colour?

When we talk about eye colour we are referring to the colour of the iris, a coloured ring of muscular tissue in the eye that surrounds the pupil, and opens and closes it to regulate how much light enters our eyes.

The main factor in determining eye colour is a pigment called melanin, which is also the pigment that colours our skin. Almost everyone has melanin in the back (posterior) layer of their iris. When you have lots of melanin in the front and back layers of your iris, you have brown eyes. People with less melanin in the front layer of their irises have hazel or green or amber eyes. People with little to no melanin in the front layer of their irises have blue or grey eyes.

While there are just a few main groups of eye colour, there is great variation in the way those colours express, and no two people have eyes with the exact same colours, even identical twins.


Can eye colour change?

Eye colour can change during life. Babies’ eyes can be more lightly pigmented and may lay down more pigment, changing colour, especially during the first year of life. Some people’s eyes change colour later in life, sometimes due to certain health conditions and sometimes due to the medical treatment of them.

There are medical conditions that can change your eye colour, some of which can be serious:

  • Medication (eye drops for glaucoma)

  • Eye trauma

  • Viral infections such as herpes

  • Fuch’s heterochromic iridocyclitis (where the eyes end up different colours)

  • Uveitis, an inflammatory condition of the eye

  • Horner’s syndrome

  • Iris melanoma

If you notice a change in your eye colour, you need to see an eye health care professional (ophthalmologist) promptly to make sure there is no serious problem that needs medical attention.


Drugs that can change eye colour

The drugs that can change your eye colour are used to treat glaucoma, which is high pressure in the eye that can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss over time. It was noticed that these drugs can make the eyelashes grow longer, thicker and darker, so they are now also marketed as eyelash growth serums. The eye colour changes are usually permanent when they happen but they don’t occur in everyone. They are most likely to occur in people with hazel (green/brown) eyes.

These drugs are called prostaglandin analogues and include:

·      Lumigan (Bimatoprost)

·      Xalatan (Latanoprost)

·      Travatan (Travoprost)

·      Zioptan (Tafluprost)

As well as causing longer, thicker, darker eyelashes, these drugs can cause:

·      increased pigmentation of the iris (changing green/brown or grey/brown eyes to brown, or making brown eyes darker brown)

·      discolouration of the lids (increased redness or pigmentation)

·      redness of the eyes

·      eye irritation and itching

·      dry eyes

·      fluid at the macula, causing blurred vision

·      “sunken” looking eyes over time.


Are there any other drops that can change eye colour?

There is a product on the market which claims to change the colour of your eyes, when used consistently over a period of months. The list of ingredients contains no actives apart from “Fancy X Factor” and when I wrote to the company to find out what this Factor was, they would not release any details.


So I cannot say whether or not it works, and I cannot say whether or not it does any harm. All I can say is that there are no drugs that I know of that lighten the colour of the iris (the coloured part of the eye) and the only drugs that I do know of that change eye colour will actually darken the eye colour (prostaglandin analogues that are used to treat glaucoma and that some people use to lengthen and darken the eyelashes.)


Are there other ways to change eye colour?

There are no safe natural remedies that will change your eye colour at home.

Contact lenses

The simplest and most common way to change your eye colour temporarily is to wear contact lenses, but contact lenses can harm your eyes. They need to be fitted professionally or they can cause abrasion, infection, scarring, loss of vision and even loss of the eye. If you are going to try contact lenses, please go to a licensed eye care professional to make sure they are safe and suitable for you; ensure they are fitted properly; do not leave them in overnight; and take them out immediately if they cause any problems at all.

Laser keratopigmentation

Laser keratopigmentation, or tattooing of the cornea, is a surgical procedure that was devised to mask corneal scars or large iris defects, but has been adopted for cosmetic use in some areas. It was originally performed with needles but is now done with laser that create tunnels in the cornea into which coloured dyes are injected. There are significant risks of unsatisfactory cosmetic results at best and serious complications at worst. Risks include inflammation, infection, scarring, light sensitivity, corneal perforation, reaction to the dye, inconsistent eye colour and colour fading or leakage.

Laser depigmentation

Laser depigmentation is used to lighten eye colour by targeting the cells of the iris that produce melanin, the pigment that gives eyes their colour. The laser treatment is performed over a series of sessions, essentially removing the melanin in the surface layer of the iris to lighten the colour of the eye. You don’t know what that colour will be until after the treatment, and it may be green, blue, grey or a mixture of these colours. Risks include inflammation of the iris, light sensitivity, glaucoma and unwanted eye colour.

Iris implant surgery

Iris implant surgery consists of inserting a prosthetic iris, originally of the same colour as the eye to cover defects due to eye injuries and other medical conditions, but this technique has been adopted to insert an iris implant of a different colour for cosmetic reasons. This procedure carries significant risks of serious and sight-threatening complications including infection, inflammation, glaucoma, cataracts, scarring and blindness.


We are divinely designed to be the way we are. Our eye colour, our hair colour, our skin colour, are all a beautiful natural symphony of colour and light. Learning to love ourselves, just as we are, is perhaps the simplest and most profound lesson in life. When you look in the mirror, let yourself love what you see, just as you are, whether you see human ‘imperfections’ or not. The world demands that we look outside of ourselves for guidance, and tells us that we are never enough and we must do more, change something, be someone… but we are already whole and complete within. Enjoy being you, simply the way you are.

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