KÉRATOPIGMENTATION : Changing eye-color

You dream about changing your eye color, technology is improving everyday and it is now possible to realize this safely. This surgery is called Keratopigmentation.

 A bit of History

About 30 years ago, technology revolutionized the way eye surgery was performed when the Femtosecond laser was created. A whole generation of highly sophisticated and efficient lasers allowed for the development of refractive surgery, meaning the permanent treatment of myopia, presbyopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Since then, millions of patients are treated using this technology every year.

About 20 years ago, doctors started using those lasers and surgical techniques for reparative surgery, astigmatism, and the reconstruction of traumatized irises. This technique was found to be well tolerated and induced no undesirable effects. On the contrary, doctors found it had a surprisingly good esthetic effect on opaque corneas.

About 10 years ago, these incredible results allowed for eye pigmentation surgeries to begin; ever since, thousands of people have benefited from this practice: Keratopigmentation.

It is interesting to know that the transition from reconstructive to cosmetic surgery is common practice. Please find two examples below:

  • Reconstructive surgery on disfigured soldiers, or « les gueules cassées » after the First World War was a pathway to what we call plastic surgery today.
  • Therapeutic injections botulinum evolved in today’s ‘botox’ for esthetic filling.


A bit of technicality to understand Keratopigmentation

Keratopigmentation combines the use of a specific laser and a complex surgical gesture. The same laser and surgical gesture are used in refractive surgery: the femtosecond laser as well as the creation of a micro-tunnel in the cornea to insert a medical device intra-corneal ring segments and the organic pigment. 
Considering these two requirements, it is understandable that this corneoplasty can only be performed in excellent surgical conditions both at human and technical levels.


A bit of practical information about the intervention

The intervention lasts approximately 45 minutes under local anesthesia using anesthetic eye drops. The surgeon creates a micro-tunnel in the cornea (not in the iris) without touching any internal tissue of the eye, and proceeds to insert the colored pigments. The operation is painless. The only possible side effects are light dazzles and droughts that naturally disappear after a few days or weeks. We recommend that patients wear sunglasses for a few days following the intervention. To this day, and for the past 10 years, no serious complications have been signaled.

The pigments of color inserted in the cornea are approved by the relevant health institutions and are made in France in compliance with French law. There are many colors to choose from, including blue, green, grey-blue, grey-green, or brown. The color is to be decided upon in a consultation preceding the intervention. Moreover, the pigment injection is progressive and it is possible for the patient to add pigment if they wish.

The result is immediate.


A bit of information on other techniques

There are other methods used to change the colour of your eyes but they are unreliable and can be dangerous:

  • Wearing colored contact lenses: a solution that works but is not permanent. Extremely strict sanitary rules need to be respected to avoid really severe side effects. Moreover, contact lenses are incompatible with optical dryness.
  • Silicon implants: it is placed inside the eye between the iris and the cornea. This surgery is not practiced in Europe anymore as it has caused dramatic side effects on patients from glaucomas to cornea grafts.
  • Iris depigmentation: where the surgeon withdraws the superficial melanin layer. The patient is unable to choose the color of the iris, it is simply lightening the initial color. Results are often disappointing, only 10% of patients are satisfied. A high number of interventions are required and the risks of glaucomas are high.



Is keratopigmentation for everyone?
During the pre-surgery meeting, the surgeon will examine your eyes and evaluate wether or not all requirements are met.
Can I choose the eye-color?
During the pre-surgery meeting, you can determine your desired color with the surgeon looking at the different shades of pigment. Moreover, you can pigment your eyes progressively during the surgery with the surgeon’s consent.
How old do I have to be?
You have to be at least 18 years old.
How much does Keratopigmentation cost?
The overall cost of the surgery is 6000 euros for both eyes. It encapsulates the rent of a room for the surgery with the laser, the pigment and the surgeon’s tariffs. If the pigment fades in the year following the surgery and there is a need to add some more the patient will only pay for the pigment itself (1000 euros).
Are there any complications due to the surgery?
No surgery has no risks but for keratopigmentation they are very thin. To this day, and for the past 10 years, no severe complications have been signaled. There can be small side effects in the following weeks such as light dazzles or dryness in the eye.
How long is the surgery itself?
The intervention lasts about 45 minutes and happens at the ‘Clinique de la Vision’ in Paris.
Will I be under general anesthesia?
Keratopigmentation does not require you to be under general anesthesia. It happens under local anesthesia with anesthetic eye-drops.
Is keratopigmentation painful?
Thanks to the anesthesia the surgery is painless.
What do I need to do before the operation?
An antibiotic eye-drop is prescribed a day before the surgery. You need to remove your contact lenses at least 48 hours before the surgery. Makeup is also forbidden the day before and the day of the surgery.
What do I need to do after the operation?
The surgeon will recommend you wear sunglasses and avoid rubbing your eyes. You should not be putting your head under water whether it is in the sea or in the pool during a month. Showers are allowed the day after the operation.
How long do I need to wait to see the results of keratopigmentation?
The result appears straight after the intervention. Please note that the color might fade slightly in the 6 months following the intervention.
Will my original eye-color come back in time?
The change of your eye-color is permanent.
Can keratopigmentation affect my eye-sight?
No complications or modifications of eye-sight have been signaled in the past 10 years. During the intervention the surgeon does not touch your eye’s internal tissue.
Are there forbidden sports after keratopigmentation?
In the month following the procedure you have to avoid exposing yourself to eye trauma.
Are the pigments used during keratopigmentation dangerous for the eye?
The pigments are made in France and comply with French and European legislation. To this day, no complications due to the pigment have been signaled.
Is the laser used for keratopigmentation reliable?
The Femtosecond laser used for keratopigmentation is the same one used for refractive surgery(myopia, myopia, presbyopia, hyperopia and astigmatism). It has been used for 30years and has proved itself in terms of security and reliability.