Cosmetic eye colour surgery

Written by kristen r. price
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Cosmetic eye colour surgery
Eye colour surgery is available only at New Colour Iris in Panama. (Geebshot/iStock/Getty Images)

Remember that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy, after having her hair curled and her lips painted, exclaims, "Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown?" Well, that idea is now not just a dreamlike procedure in the merry old land of Oz, but an actual patented surgery, currently performed by only one clinic: New Color Iris, located in Panama.


NewColorIris is a patented surgical implant that gives patients the option of changing their natural eye colour. The implant, developed by Dr. Delary Kahn, is currently used in cosmetic eye colour operations in Panama City, Panama, under the direction of Kahn.

Dr. Delary Alberto Kahn

Kahn has 15 years experience in ocular surgery for the repair of glaucoma, cataracts, cornea and, more recently, in the field of ocular implant surgery. Dr. Kahn has worked at medical research centres in Stanford, California and Munich, Germany. He has practised at Centro Medico Paitilla and Consultorios Royal Center in Panama City since 1993.

In 2006, Kahn received a patent for his NewColorIris implant, which surgically changes a patient's eye colour. Since his patent will not expire until 2023, Kahn remains the only doctor performing cosmetic eye colour surgery in the world.


NewColorIris was developed to assist patients with albinism, which is caused by a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes, as well as heterochromia, a condition in which one iris is a different colour than the other. Of course, the procedure is also marketed as an elective cosmetic surgery for those patients who desire to change their eye colour. During the surgery, the diaphragm-like implant is placed into the eye, just above the patient's iris, under topical anaesthesia. The NewColorIris implant comes in light blue and light green and is promoted to look so natural that only an ophthalmologist can detect its presence.


Although advertising and promotion of the NewColorIris indicates that both the implant and procedure are safe, other doctors have discredited the practice, indicating that risks associated with the surgery include glaucoma, infection and even blindness. On the popular television show, "The Doctors," Dr. Kerry Assil spoke out against the surgery, saying that the risks include "blindness, for starters. The shape of this product, the size of this product, the location that it's placed in will eventually lead to cataracts, loss of the cornea, inflammation inside the eye and a severe form of glaucoma that will result in irreversible blindness."


After the surgery, patients who receive the NewColorIris implant must remain at the centre for at least a week and receive regular check-ups to ward off infections, ocular hypertension, and other potential conditions. After the surgery, patients are required to use antibiotics and eye drops and must receive ophthalmology exams at least biannually. According to the NewColorIris web site, the implant can be removed, if desired.

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