We may be just a few years away from walking into our dermatologist’s office with gorgeous, deep brown eyes, receiving a laser treatment, and returning home with gorgeous, light blue eyes. Here’s why this is an appalling idea.
First, let’s talk science. This unbelievable laser was imagined 20 years ago by a man named Gregg Homer, after he had pigment spots removed from his skin with a laser and wondered how the treatment would affect the eye’s iris. Homer, an inventor with a Ph.D., collaborated with a board of investigators that included dermatologists and researched the green laser, which can penetrate the cornea and become absorbed by a dark iris.
As it turns out, beneath every brown eye lies a blue eye — who knew? — and the laser sort of strips away the brown, but does so gradually so that the eye lightens bit by bit over a few weeks.
Maybe you’re wondering how they know this works. Let’s talk ethics.
The laser has been tested on 37 people living in Costa Rica through Homer’s company Stroma. Each human subject has received the laser treatment in one eye, and so far, there have been no side effects — though we should remember this is in its infancy and we have absolutely no idea what will happen to these folks in 10, 20 or 40 years (hopefully, nothing and they will live happy, blue-eyed lives). I don’t want to speculate on why these people agreed to be test subjects because I have no way of knowing, but the whole thing leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.
Only one in six people in the United States has blue eyes — and that number continues to decrease as more blue-eyed folks fall in love with brown-eyed folks and have little brown-eyed kiddies. Naturally, we covet what we can’t have, so it makes sense that people will become even more obsessed with light eye color as the years pass.
Blue eyes are special. Even if no one ever came right out and said it to us, the message was loud and clear when we were playing with our blue-eyed Barbies. It became even more apparent a few years later when we learned about the Nazi ideology which associated blue peepers with a supreme race of human beings. These were adults. Adults making ludicrous assumptions about a color, not unlike my 3-year-old daughter, who will only wear purple “because it’s the best.”
Speaking of the Nazi party, anyone remember Dr. Josef Mengele and the outrageously cruel medical experiments he carried out on Holocaust victims? One of them involved injecting dye into the eyes of brown-eyed people to see if he could turn them blue.
I’m not suggesting that Homer and other inventors behind this laser are like Mengele. Obviously, people are going to line up to throw money at their docs and beg to be turned into blue-eyed goddesses and gods. Honestly, the only shocking thing about this laser is that it wasn’t invented 30 years ago because it’s going to be a huge hit.
And that makes me sad. We’ve already forgotten how older women’s faces are supposed to look, how natural breasts often sag, and that lips needn’t appear perpetually swollen to be attractive. I already feel bad for the young woman who has this procedure done at age 20 and later gives birth to a child whose eye color she no longer shares.
Homer says he won’t release the procedure, which is expected to cost about $5,000, until he deems it safe enough for his 20-year-old brown-eyed daughter. I suppose that should be some comfort, but it isn’t. The world is about to become a whole lot less interesting and beautiful if people change those traits that make them uniquely gorgeous.