Ophthalmology Business

JUL 2013

Ophthalmology Business is focused on business topics relevant to the entrepreneurial ophthalmologist. It offers editorial, opinion, and practical tips for physicians running an ophthalmic practice. It is a companion publication of EyeWorld.

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Brown to blue: Procedure changes eye color by Erin L. Boyle Senior Staff Writer An iris with partial pigment elimination, revealing the blue eye that lies beneath a brown eye W hile brown eyes have long been the subject of song and verse, not everyone with the color is satisfied with it. A new laser procedure in pilot development could cosmetically assist those people, turning their brown eyes into blue eyes, permanently. The popularity of colored contact lenses, which change the eye's color only temporarily, shows the market for such a procedure, inventor Gregg Homer, JSD (PhD), said. Strōma Medical Corporation (Laguna Beach, Calif.) is developing the permanent laser procedure, as yet unnamed. "The fundamental principal is that under every brown eye is a blue eye, literally. Therefore, the first and most basic iteration of technology is to change an eye from brown to blue," said Dr. Homer, chairman and chief scientific officer, Strōma Medical Corporation, and chairman Source: Stroma Medical Corporation and CEO, Homer Labs. "Thereafter, we will explore changes from brown to green and from green to blue." Dr. Homer explained that there is actually no blue in the eye. "If you think about it, there's no blue pigment in your body. What makes an eye blue is the scattering of the light by the fibers in the iris, similar to the Rayleigh scattering of sunlight in the sky." When a person looks at a blue eye, what he or she actually sees are grey collagen fibers scattering visible light and reflecting back only the blue light, thereby creating the appearance of a blue iris. People with "blue" eyes have no pigment on their anterior iris, whereas people with brown eyes have a thin layer of pigment on the anterior surface. That thin layer prevents light from getting into or out of the iris stroma, so only the brown opaque pigment is seen. Iqbal (Ike) K. Ahmed, MD, assistant professor, University of Toronto, clinical assistant professor, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and a member of Strōma Medical's Medical Advisory Board (MAB), said a good example of this can be seen in babies who are born with a slate grey eye color, which can change over time. "Essentially it's light reflecting off the iris layers, and in the brown eye, you've got a layer of brown pigment that's covering the anterior iris. The idea behind the procedure is simply to reduce or eliminate the brown melanin that's present in the anterior layers of the iris, the anterior epithelium," he said. Behind the idea Dr. Homer did not begin his career in ophthalmology. He left work as a Hollywood entertainment lawyer to work full time as a scientist and inventor, including in the medical space. He became interested in the concept of changing eye color in the late 1990s. At that time, he discovered a paper in the literature on iris pigmentation by RC Eagle Jr.1 continued on page 10

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