Cosmetic Eye Whitening Comes With Severe Risk to Vision and Eye Health
Cosmetic eye whitening starting gaining popularity in South Korea and recently has been performed on nearly 200 patients in the US. The procedure, a local conjunctivectomy followed by postop use of topical mitomycin C (MMC) and/or topical steroids is performed on patients with healthy eyes, but have cosmetic concerns such as redness (hyperemia), undesirable pigmentation, or yellow spots on the conjunctiva (pingueculas).
A recent review study examined the literature to catalogue the complications of cosmetic eye whitening in order to provide guidance to patients about the possible risks of this procedure. The authors were able to identify 10 articles that reported complications based on 2,400 patients that had undergone a cosmetic conjunctivectomy.
The results show a number of serious side effects are present when patients undergo this elective procedure. Some are short-term and resolve, but a large study found that after a follow-up period of 10 months, the overall complication rate was 82.9%. Severe complications such as fibrovascular conjunctival proliferation, recurrent hyperemic conjunctiva, increased intraocular pressure, scleral thinning, and diplopia affected the patients. Nonetheless, more than half the patients reported being satisfied with the cosmetic outcome of the surgery. Following this report, the Korean Ministry of Health & Welfare recommended against use of the procedure. Likewise, the American Society of Cataract Refractive Surgery does not condone the use of regional conjunctivectomy for cosmetic eye whitening.
The authors conclude that unnecessary and devastating consequences arise from this elective procedure and this begs the question of how useful this procedure may be, due to the number of potentially serious complications. The authors hope that this review will inform the medical community of the downside to conjunctivectomy for cosmetic eye whitening.
Byline: Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C
Posted: November 20, 2017
Adapted from the original article.