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B.C. optometrist warns against trending eye colour change procedure

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A medical procedure that can permanently change a person's eye colour may be trending on social media, but a B.C. optometrist is warning about the significant risks associated.

Keratopigmentation, which B.C. Doctors of Optometry board member Dr. Janice Luk describes as corneal tattooing, isn't approved in Canada. However, the procedure was pioneered in Europe and is gaining popularity in the United States, Luk explained.

Luk said the permanent procedure uses a laser to deposit pigment into the skin on the front surface of the eyes, which is naturally clear. As a result, a person's natural eye colour is obscured.

The procedure doesn't come without risks, however. Luk warned it can cause pain and light sensitivity. Additionally, because the procedure has only been around for 10 years or so, there may be other unknown complications.

"We just don't know the long-term effects of having a pigment in our corneal tissue. There aren't enough studies that can back the safety at this time," Luk told CTV Morning Live on Thursday.

Luk said the procedure was initially developed for patients with blind eyes that have scarring from injury or trauma.

"Now what's happened is it's being used for aesthetic purposes," Luk said, adding eye colour change has been a "popular" topic in the eye care industry.

"There is increasing popularity on social media regarding this topic," she said.

For those who want to change their eye colour, Luk said the safest option is to get optometrist-recommended colour contact lens.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Keri Adams 

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