Tariq AL Fayad Blog

Cosmetic Iris Implant - Permanent Damage To Your Eyes

By Tariq Al Fayad | 4 min read

Color contact lenses are the very popular mode of temporarily changing your eyes to blue, green and other eyes.

But now artificial iris anterior chamber implants come up in trend to change eye colour permanently, it not only change eye colour but damages the eyes permanently.

I have seen many online discussions say the procedure is safe and uses the same technology used in cataract surgery. But this is absolutely not, FDA does not approve this procedure for clinical trials because of its complications.

About Iris Implant Surgery

Artificial iris anterior chamber implants were originally developed for therapeutic purposes but have been used recently for the cosmetic alteration of eye colour.

Iris implant surgery is an option in patients with aniridia and traumatic iris defects for better cosmesis 1.

The cosmetic implants NewColorIris marketed by Kahn Medical Devices (Panama City, Panama) were introduced as a safe alternative to coloured contact lenses for purely cosmetic use in healthy individuals (with no history of eye disease).

There are three colour options available: hazel, green or blue.

During this implant surgery, Local anaesthesia is given to patients and a small incision is made at the limbal region to place the artificial iris implants.

Artificial iris implants are made of the same material that is used in manufacturing intraocular lens. These iris implants are folded and placed inside the cornea. Then this iris is unfolded and adjusted in position to cover the natural iris.


The NewColorIris implant is a silicone, ring-shaped, one-piece diaphragm with 6 semi-circular peripheral footplates or flaps.

It is available in one size only, measuring 15.00 mm in diameter, with a central pupil hole of diameter 3.50 mm and thickness of 0.16 mm. However, despite the standard design, individual variation seems common.

According to Hoguet et al. 2, “the implants were not identical and some, but not all, have peripheral iridectomy cutouts of various sizes”.

Also, Anderson et al. 3, reported irregular sharp edges observed by microscopy and also stated that not all implants had 6 footplates.

What symptoms can occur?

Initially most often reddening and blurred vision may appear within 6 months of surgery though usually, they appear within the first 2 years. Once initial signs arise, surgical removal of implants are required.

What are possible complications?

The cosmetic iris implants have more risk of developing severe eye damage permanently. Complications like Uveitis, Corneal Oedema, Cataract, Increased IOP, Glaucoma, and decreased vision do occur 4, 5.

The onset of ocular hypertension or glaucoma is also a frequent complication.

Among the many factors possibly leading to an increase in IOP 6, instead of haptics, the NewColorIris has 6 foot plates that rest on the corneal-scleral angle damaging the trabecular meshwork, Schlemm canal, and collector channels 7.

And most of the times these patients have required significant surgical intervention for ongoing problems following removal of implants.

What you need to know

Several studies show the serious complications of Iris implant procedure may include,

  1. Reduced vision or blindness;
  2. Elevated pressure inside the eye that can lead to glaucoma;
  3. Cataract;
  4. Injury to the cornea, Corneal decompensation. If severe enough corneal transplantation may be needed;
  5. Inflammation of the iris leading to anterior uveitis;

  1. ^

    Mamalis N. Cosmetic iris implants. J Cataract Refract Surg 2012;38:383.DOI: 10.1016/j.jcrs.2012.01.015 [PubMed].

  2. ^

    Hoguet A, Ritterband D, Koplin R, Wu E, Raviv T, Aljian J, et al. Serious ocular complications of cosmetic iris implants in 14 eyes. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2012; 38: 387-393. [PubMed].

  3. ^

    Anderson JE, Grippo TM, Sbeity Z, Ritch R. Serious complications of cosmetic NewColorIris implantation. Acta Ophthalmol. 2010; 88: 700- 704. DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-3768.2008.01499.x [PubMed].

  4. ^

    Serious ocular complications of cosmetic iris implants in 14 eyes Hoguet, Ambika et al. Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery, Volume 38, Issue 3, 387 - 39. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrs.2011.09.037 [PubMed].

  5. ^

    Chaurasia S. Devastating complication of cosmetic iris implants. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 2017 [cited 2017 Sep 3];65:771-2. Available from: http://www.ijo.in/text.asp?2017/65/8/771/213257

  6. ^

    Pozdeyeva NA, Pashtayev NP, Lukin VP, Batkov YN. Artificial iris lens diaphragm in reconstructive surgery for aniridia and aphakia. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2005; 31: 1750-1759. [PubMed].

  7. ^

    Morales-Fernandez L, Martinez-de-la-Casa JM, Borrego L, Sanchez-Jean R, Arriola-Villalobos P, et al. (2015) Glaucoma and Corneal Decompensation Following Cosmetic Iris Prosthesis Implantation: A Case Report. JSM Ophthalmol 3(2): 1031.

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Tariq Al Fayad

Hi, I am Tariq Al Fayad, Optometrist & Private Practitioner in Tamil Nadu, India.
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