They say that the eyes are the window to the soul, which is why it makes sense that you would want your eyes to be as vibrant and clear as possible.
But for those who are unhappy with the eye color we were given at birth, the answer has long been, “Tough luck.” Now, though, times have changed. Colored contact lenses, surgical and laser options are all options to change the color of their eyes.
The question remains: Are there natural ways to change eye color? The answer is, yes and no. There is no real home remedy to completely change your eye color, but there are supposed solutions to brightening or darkening your eye color.
What Determines Eye Color?
Like so many things about our appearances, eye color is genetic.
Most babies are born with blue eyes because they don’t yet have melanin. But their eyes will darken in the first three years if enough melanin is produced. However, this melanin production (or lack thereof) is completely genetic.
Children can have completely different eye colors to their parents but some rules do exist. If both parents have brown eyes, it’s most likely that their children will have brown eyes, as darker colors tend to dominate. For example, brown tends to win out over green, and green tends to win out over blue. But interestingly (due to the incredibly, complex universe that is genetics) it’s actually possible for two blue-eyed parents to produce a brown-eyed child.
Most people in the world tend to have brown eyes, followed by blue and grey-colored eyes. Green is the least common color, so if you’re green-eyed you’re a rare species!
From a technical standpoint, eye color is determined by melanin, the same pigment that determines skin color. Blue eyes have less melanin. Green eyes have a medium amount of melanin. Brown eyes have the most melanin.1
If you have light-colored eyes you’ve probably noticed that you’re quite sensitive to sunlight and can’t leave home without your sunglasses! This is because the chief job of melanin is to protect our eyes (and skin) from the sun. Light eyes are much more sensitive to the sun than darker eyes purely because they have less pigment.
How Do I Increase Melanin?
If you have light eyes but always pined for Salma Hayek’s brown eyes, there may be an option for you. It’s said that some prescription lash-thickening products gradually add melanin over time. But, that’s just a theory. We don’t make ANY claims our lash extender can do this, nor would we recommend you use a product for anything beyond its intended use.
So, How Do I Remove the Melanin?
Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple. If you want to permanently change your eye color, then you will have to undergo surgery. Even then, be careful: Your eye is an organ, and with surgery, there’s always a risk.
Can I Use Honey to Lighten My Eyes?
If you Google, “How to change your eye color,” you’ll be greeted with a dozen or so articles suggesting that honey is the natural solution that you’re looking for. These articles suggest that you dilute honey in warm water and drop it into the eye.
Any time anyone other than a doctor tells you to put a food item in your eyes, it should give you serious pause. We recommend being extra skeptical about this advice, given that many of these websites have the same article, written in broken English copy and pasted. It looks as if it’s sound advice because of all the articles that come up with a search—but don’t be fooled. One voice that amplifies itself does not make it good advice. Like mom always said, “Just because everyone is jumping off a cliff, would you do it too?”
Why People Use Honey
Honey is a natural bleaching agent, which is why many believe that it is a good way to lighten eyes – again, temporarily.
By the same logic, the sun is a natural bleaching agent. Leave a stained shirt in the sun, and it will “sun bleach” the stain right out. Yet staring directly into the sun to lighten your eye color is dangerous. This is one of those cases where just because something is “natural,” it doesn’t make it good for you.
The Dangers of Honey
Honey can have bacteria in it, so when you apply it to your eyes, you may be introducing bacteria into a warm, moist environment. It’s the perfect recipe for infection. It is true that honey is used in some medicinal capacities – on corneal abrasions, for example, but that doesn’t mean that you should use it at home.2 You’re not dealing with the same sterile environment. And this puts you at a much higher chance for infection.
In the best case scenario with honey (where you don’t get an eye infection), you are still using something that has a different pH from your eyes. The pH of the human eye is approximately 7.5, which makes it a mild base. The pH of honey is around 3.9, which makes it an acid. Putting something that acidic in your eye, even when diluted, will cause irritation.
What’s The Verdict?
The short answer is: don’t do it. It may sound like the internet is giving you a resounding, “Go for it,” but that is coming from an echo chamber filled with bad information.
Colored Contact Lenses
A safe option, hooray! Sure, colored contacts aren’t a permanent solution. They’re something you have to remove at the end of every day, but they’re safe (as long as you keep them clean). They’re also the least invasive option if you’re looking to take your eyes from brown to blue, or to enhance your own, natural color.
Over the years, vast improvements have been made to color contacts. The colors are more nuanced and believable. So if you’re looking to take a totally new eye color out for a spin (without anything surgical), this is the way to do it.
Still Not Enough? You Might Be Interested in This New Laser Procedure
A new procedure is being developed that may mean that you can permanently change your eye color. The procedure has yet to be approved in the U.S., but it shows some promise.
Developed by Stroma Medical, this laser procedure can turn brown eyes blue, permanently. In an interview with CNN, Dr. Gregg Homer explained that under every brown eye, there is a blue eye.
“The only difference between a brown eye and a blue eye is a very thin layer of pigment on the surface,” Homer said.3
The company claims it has developed a laser treatment that works by disrupting the pigment layer of the eye. The effect is that the body begins to remove the tissue naturally. The procedure itself takes a mere 20 seconds, but you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for the full effect to emerge.
There is some skepticism from ophthalmologists about the safety of the procedure. Saj Khan, of the London Eye Hospital, told CNN, “The main concern with any procedure that involves releasing pigment inside the eye is that the pigment can clog up the normal drainage channels, which can, in turn, cause the pressure inside the eye to go up.” Ultimately, Dr. Khan said, it could cause glaucoma.
Anyone hoping for a quick, permanent eye color change will have to wait until this procedure is cleared by the FDA.
Not An Eye-deal Risk
In the meantime, save the honey for your tea, steer clear of the knife, and spring for colored contacts if you really want to change your eye color—be it dark to light or light to dark. They’re safe, cheap, easy to use, and nonpermanent. And, you can easily wear a different eye color every day!
Your eyes are not only the window to your soul, they’re your window onto this entire, beautiful world. Aren’t they far too important to meddle with?
Article updated: March 21, 2018
2 Najafi MEteraf-Oskouei T. Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review. PubMed Central (PMC). 2013. Accessed December 10, 2016.
3 Shadbolt P. Laser procedure can turn brown eyes blue. CNN. 2015.Accessed December 10, 2016.