Keratopigmentation, or corneal tattooing, is a common cosmetic restoration technique for severely impaired eyes; now, researchers have found that using the procedure to change the color of the eyes for purely cosmetic reasons can be a safe surgical option with positive feedback.

This study included 79 eyes of 40 patients who voluntarily underwent keratopigmentation. The researchers found that the follow-up evaluation (from one to six years post-op) was excellent in 90% of cases, and patients’ satisfaction was excellent in 92.5% of cases. Of the 28 eyes that underwent further surgery, seven (8.9%) had two color touch ups and four eyes (5.1%) had three color touch ups. After the retreatments, all patients were satisfied with the cosmetic outcomes.

Light sensitivity at one month post-op was the most common complication (30%), followed by change in the color (7.5%), color fading (5%) and visual field limitations in one case with 4.5mm pupil size. The researchers did note that one patient with a history of LASIK developed corneal ectasia.

The study concluded that keratopigmentation, at its current level of development, has satisfactory cosmetic outcomes with long-term stability outside of some specific pigments.

The researchers suggest more studies with better selection criteria, such as excluding LASIK patients and improvements in pigments that avoid molecules that change color can confirm the suitability and safety of this new technique.


D’Oria F, Alio JL, Rodriguez AE, et al. Cosmetic keratopigmentation in sighted eyes medium- and long-term clinical evaluation. Cornea. July 29, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].