Expensive eye sore a waste of time, improper use of science
It sounds like a scene from a Scott Westerfield science fiction book — “Pretties” to be exact. It fits right into the futuristic world where beauty is the ultimate goal and impossible-sounding cosmetic surgeries are a weekly and even bi-weekly occurrence. Our real-world science may not be able to place a ruby-studded clock in our eyeballs, but if recent events are an indicator, a thinly sliced ruby may not be too much of a stretch.
On Nov. 6, Dr. Emil Chynn, the medical director of Park Avenue Laser Vision in New York, performed the East Coast’s first cosmetic extraocular implant, or eyeball jewelry surgery. That is right. Jewelry not just for the eyes, but inside the eyes.
Although not the first surgery of its kind in the world — it is apparently all the rage in Europe and not even the first in the United States; Los Angeles got that first — it has gained a sizeable amount of attention.
According to Chynn, the one minute surgery involves making a tiny incision in the area between the sclera, the white part of the eye, and conjunctiva, the clear part, and then placing in it the 3.5-millimeter platinum object — a heart, diamond or a Christmas tree for the holidays.
While this surgery is certainly fascinating for its bizarreness, some things are better suited for fiction than they are for reality.
According to a New York Daily News photo caption, eye jewelry surgery dates back to at least 2004 in the Netherlands. The surgery, which costs $3,000, has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration or by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The AAO released a statement on its website urging people to “avoid placing in the eye any foreign body or material that is not proven to be medically safe or approved by the FDA.”
Furthermore, the surgery does not have “sufficient evidence to support the safety or therapeutic value of this procedure.”
Despite Chynn’s declaration on his website that “there is absolutely no risk of going blind or any visual loss,” the AAO’s website post says the contrary, warning of “blindness from severe ocular infection or bleeding; sub-conjunctival hemorrhage (bleeding underneath the clear conjunctiva, turning the white part of the eye red); perforation/puncture of the eye and conjunctivitis.”
The surgery has been compared to a tattoo in that it is permanent and functions as an accessory or beauty enhancement. Although an accurate comparison, the eyeball jewelry surgery seems worse. Truthfully, this may simply be because of the surgery’s novelty, but it also seems more frivolous than a tattoo.
Though not always the case, tattoos tend to have a meaning, thereby balancing out the pain in attaining them. However, it is hard to imagine that a heart or diamond is for more than just decoration. Without a deeper meaning, the surgery loses its seriousness and just seems vapid and stupid.
Lucy Luckayanko, one of Chynn’s patients who received the surgery, can attest to this in her comments to the media when she said, “It’s really small, really tiny, really cute. It’s going to be a conversation maker. I will be able to tell people. It will be unique. It will be sort of my unique factor.”
There are simpler ways of being unique and breaking the ice; a piece of metal in your eye is not necessary — especially not for $3,000. Imagine the semesters’ worth of textbooks you can buy with that. An easier way to break the ice is having something interesting to say, which you could gain from the textbooks you could have bought with that $3,000.
Opinion columnist Monica Rojas is a print journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]