Iris implants threaten vision
CBC News Posted: Jan 17, 2012 7:29 AM ET Last Updated: Jan 17, 2012 10:32 PM ET
Canadian Beatriz Murillo, left, went to Panama for silicone iris implants that changed her eye colour from brown to green. Since then, she’s had two glaucoma surgeries and a cornea transplant, and can now only see vague shapes and colours. (Courtesy of Beatriz Murillo)
Using surgical implants to change eye colour can rob people of their vision, some Canadian eye specialists warn.
Cosmetic iris implants are not available in Canada or the U.S., but some Canadian doctors have had to treat patients who went outside North America for the procedure and developed serious problems.
Beatriz Murillo, 36, travelled from Toronto to a clinic in Panama, where she paid $8,000 to have a silicone disc placed on top of her irises to lighten the colour from brown to green.“I’m an artist and I’m afraid I’m never going to be able to paint again,” said Murillo, who had the procedure three years ago.
Last year, she started to feel pain, as if knives were stabbing the inside of her eyes. She also experienced elevated pressure in her eyes. Since then, she’s had two glaucoma surgeries and a cornea transplant that her body rejected, and she can now only see vague shapes and colours.
“Essentially, she’s legally blind now in both eyes, despite the fact that these artificial implants have been removed,” said Dr. Allen Slomovic, Murillo’s ophthalmologist, noting she can only count fingers 0.6 metres in front of her face, which is significantly worse than legal blindness.
“I think the lesson Beatriz has taught us is to be very cautious when dealing with cosmetic implants.”
Iris implants can irritate the delicate eye, said Dr. Ike Ahmed.
Dr. Ike Ahmed, an eye surgeon at Mississauga’s Credit Valley Hospital, has seen two similar cases of people needing medical and surgical treatment.
Iris implants can irritate the delicate eye, Ahmed noted.
“At this time, we have no real safe, surgical way” to change eye colour, Ahmed said. “If one is really interested in changing their eye colour, then it means colour contact lenses.”
At the New Iris clinic in Panama, Dr. Delary Kahn refused to talk about any specific patients, citing confidentiality.
“In the last six years, more than 600 procedures have been done including [on] many patients from Canada,” Kahn said in an email.
Murillo now wants to get a donor cornea transplant in hopes of stopping the pain and improving her sight.
As for the colour she sought with the implants, Murillo said the lighter version looked “fake.”
With files from CBC’s Kelly Crowe and Heather Evans