Oct 31, 2013
There are some very dangerous to moderately complication prone cosmetic procedures that are advertised on the internet. Articles are have been published in major Ophthalmology journals world-wide reporting complications anywhere from failing to make the eye whiter, to surgery necessary to remove "bling" to loss of the eye.
This is not cosmetic eye surgery to give the eyelids a more youthful appearance (blepharoplasty) or a rounder shape. Let us look at these other cosmetic eye operations that are causing problems starting with the most serious:
COSMETIC EYE COLOR (IRIS) CHANGE: First let's say what this isn't. We are not talking about surgery to rebuild a traumatized iris or an eye born without an iris (aniridia). This is legitimate surgery to correct often completely disabling light sensitivity and glare. It is done by skilled surgeons using prosthetic iris implants that have been clinically tested and approved by appropriate national agencies. Nor is this using a laser to alter iris color although I would never recommend this surgery to a patient of mine. Nor are we talking about contact lens to alter the appearance of the eye iris color when worn if the contacts are fit by a skilled ophthalmologist or optometrist and worn by an informed and meticulous patient.
So what are we talking about? NEVER is it worth considering having the eye have major surgery inside the eye in which an incision is placed in the cornea and a colored disk placed within the eye. This type of surgery has caused infection, bleeding, cornea clouding, chronic inflammation, severe pain, permanent loss of vision and blinded eyes. Many of these have been done in Panama. Other cosmetic iris intraocular implants allegedly are being done in Mexico and Turkey.
COSMETIC PERMANENTLY PLACING OF TRINKETS ("BLING") ON THE SURFACE OF THE EYE. These are not like body piercing, dental grill work or tattoos. Often shaped like shamrocks, hearts, musical notes, etc. They have to be implanted surgically under the outer layer of the eye (conjunctiva) and over the white eye wall (sclera). Problems have included infection, inflammation, scar formation, chronically red and watery eyes. Removal surgery is often necessary and they eye may remain red and irritated looking and permanently watery and inflamed.
COSMETIC EYE WHITENING: This does not refer to removal of sun damaged tissue that is growing over the cornea called pterygia (singular pterygium). It does refer to surgery to remove pinguecula, thick tenon fascia or fat from the eye surface just to improve cosmetic appearance. Technically this is called "regional conjunctivectomy with or without post operative injection of mitomycin and/or bevacizumab". A recent report (2013) in the American Journal of Ophthalmology of 557 people having this surgery found 70% post operative complications of which 34% were severe. 40% of the people having this surgery were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Dry eyes were common.
This type of surgery is reported to cost $3,500 to $5,500 USD and is not covered by insurance.
SUMMARY: At this writing (10/31/13) cosmetic iris implants surgically placed within the eye are NOT RECOMMENDED by almost all ophthalmologist, Eye MDs. Most all ophthalmologists would NOT RECOMMEND cosmetic eye whitening or cosmetic trinkets ("bling") placed surgically under the surface of the eye (conjunctiva). Assuming these risks to vision, eye comfort and appearance and incurring brutal out of pocket expenses in the hopes of making one slightly or questionably more attractive is not a rational or logical course of action.
John C. Hagan III, MD, FACS, FAAO
photo: an uninflamed and thus far complication free heart shaped "eye jewelry" (bad idea): source michaelKooren/Reuters/RichmondEye