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Eyes Right!

Its not just perfect vision — more people are visiting opthalmologists for changing eye colour or making eyelashes longer and darker, writes Jaya Shroff Bhalla.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2013 22:19 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla

Fashion model Puneet Sharma, 25, developed a fascination for blue eyes while studying at an international school in Delhi. “I have been using contact lenses since I was 15, but of late, I started developing eye infections. My parents also wanted me to get rid of coloured contacts as they were tired of my repeated visits to the ophthalmologists’ because of eye problems,” said Sharma.

“About six months of research helped me zero in on a doctor who did iris replacements. So without wasting time, I met him and underwent what seemed like some 100 tests, before he declared me suitable for the surgery,” said Sharma.

Ten minutes of surgery time of each eye, and a recuperating period of about 6-7 hours at Vasan Eye Centre in Pusa Road in Delhi, Sharma says, he was free to go.

“The surgery did burn a deep hole into my pocket, as I spent close to R4 lakh in all, but it was all worth it. I now feel much more at ease and comfortable with myself,” said Sharma.

“We implanted an artificial iris, 12.5 mm in diameter on the natural iris (the part of the eye that contains a pigment that determines your natural eye colour),” said Dr Shibu Varkey, who works at Vasan Eye Care Institute in Trichy, who came down to the Delhi centre for the surgery.

The treatment, which unlike vision saving procedures is purely cosmetic, comes with risks.

“There is a definite fear of one losing his vision permanently. There are such tiny blood vessels in that part of eye that houses the iris, that this surgery which is mostly cosmetic in nature, can never have complete support of traditional ophthalmologists,” said Dr Atul Kumar, professor at the department of ophthalmology at AIIMS.

The surgery may also cause haziness of the cornea, inflammation of the iris, glaucoma and inability of the pupil to dilate and constrict.

“These implants were meant for people who couldn’t see and such surgeries aren’t foolproof. The moment you go inside the eye, there are chances of infection, vessels bursting and developing glaucoma,” said Dr Rishi Mohan, senior consultant, ophthalmology, Fortis Healthcare.

Longer lashes
Simple use of an eyelash enhancer can grow lashes grow twice their length. Prajakta Kapur, 28, didn’t use eye make-up for a long time because she didn’t want to highlight her sparse lashes. On her doctor’s advice, she applied a “lash growing ointment,” on both her upper and lower eye lids for about 2-3 months, when she noticed visible changes.

“It worked like magic. My eye brows grew almost 1.5 times,” said Kapur.

“A tiny bottle of the solution cost me a little over R5,000, but then it was all worth it. No amount of mascara was helping me get that look,” she said.

The drug uses the same component used to treat glaucoma and control eye pressure. “This class of chemicals is called prostagelandins that was tested as a drug and high pigmentation was found as one of its side-effects. But it’s not only the lashes that turn darker, the surrounding area also turns dark and it seems one is wearing kajal perpetually,” added Dr Mohan.

Vision enhancement
Prabal Khattry’s, 55, vision not only stabilised but also improved with a new technique that sues a molecule called ranibizumab.

He was suffering from a form of retinopathy called diabetic macular edema (DME), which is the leading cause of blindness in people with diabetes.

“The advance Anti-VEGF treatment ensures that the risk of loss in vision, for patients suffering from DME, drops by 50%,” said Dr Cyrus M. Shroff, medical director, Shroff Eye Centre New Delhi.

“The release of a chemical called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) causes increased leakage from blood vessels of the eyes. Ranibizumab is an antibody fragment that binds and blocks the effects of VEGF and inhibits all isoforms of VEGF,” he said.

“The molecule not only permanently treats DME and stabilises vision, but also improves the vision by 20-30% in about half the people.” said Dr Raja Rami Reddy, head, Neo Retinal Eye Hospital, Hyderabad.

Other treatment options are laser treatment, which stabilises vision.

A steroid injection in the eye in the vitreous cavity along with laser treatment is another option.

(Names of patients have been changed to protect identities).