As of 2014, the only way to change eye color permanently is through the use of iris implants, which present serious health risks. A laser surgery is being developed that may work, and people can influence the perception of their eye color with clothing colors or colored contact lenses.
Infants' eyes occasionally change color naturally, and sometimes significant hormonal changes such as puberty may slightly darken eyes. This is not reliable, and the change is small. The way people perceive color is influenced by other colors in the vicinity, so sometimes wearing certain clothing colors may cause the eyes to appear to be a different color. It is simply a different perception, however, rather than a real change. Colored contact lenses also work to safely but temporarily change the color of the eye.
Iris implant surgeries are not approved in the United States, but some people travel to countries where they are legal. However, the American Academy of Ophthalmology warns that iris implants can cause reduced vision, blindness, cataracts, painful inflammation and injury to the cornea.
The color of the eyes is influenced by the presence of melanin, which darkens the underlying blue of the iris. A laser procedure that removes this outer layer of melanin, which turns brown eyes blue. As of 2014, this procedure is still undergoing clinical trials, so it is not commercially available.