Eye color mod

Is there any way to add bio fluorescence to an eyeball?  Kind of like how they make some cells glow in UV light?


  • @DirectorX:  Yes, there is; I forget the type of gene needed, but I know there are bio-fluorescent genes.  My question is; how do you get that gene inserted in only your eye?  With the tetrachromacy mod, it doesn't matter, because that gene would only be useful in your eye anyway, but since we don't (presumably) want to completely glow in the dark, we need to find a way to either insert the gene only to the iris of your eyeball, or to turn off the gene in all other cells.

    Another option would to be to insert the gene which increases the reflectivity of the back of the eyeball in nocturnal mammals; if you've ever looked at them in the dark from the correct angle, you've seen their pupils glow.  I don't really know how feasible this particular mod would be, though.
  • Wouldn't a bio-fluorescent iris disrupt your vision, especially in the dark? I'm thinking of it kind of like having a faintly glowing object right up against your eye - from a distance, the object would appear to be barely bright, but up close, it would seem quite bright relative to the surroundings. Right?
  • @Oak:  Hm, I didn't really think of that.  I suppose the best way to test it would be to insert the gene into light-sensitive bacteria, and see how much that impairs their ability to navigate using light.

    Of course, for the other mod I mentioned, this wouldn't apply, seeing as animals use it all the time, with no known ill effects.
  • I would not recommend doing that, as having millions of internal lights in your eye may be ... well, bad. *Shrug* Also, GFP (the gene that makes things glow) is known for binding to certain proteins and shaping them into new forms, which is bad. 
  • I didn't know it actually made the cell glow.  I thought it just reflected differently in UV light.  That would be an obstacle.  I like these contact lenses:


    It would be cool to produce that effect under UV lights and still have normal looking irises in normal light.
  • OakOak
    edited March 2011
    "It would be cool to produce that effect under UV lights and still have normal looking irises in normal light."

    That it would. Perhaps the tetrachromacy mod would be the best place to start with this - no doubt, gene modding in a very specific location (eyes) would cause some unexpected complications, and it would likely be best to observe a more predictable procedure before attempting one that is completely new to science (as far as I am aware). 

    I'd say UV-reactive irises would fall under the "completely new" part, and tetrachromacy would probably fall under "almost completely new" - which isn't much, but it's something. Contacts may simply be the best solution in the interim.

    Then again, conjecture is always fun! I guess that the first step would be to find living organisms that have genes that produce UV-reactive pigments. Anyone know of any? I'd actually be willing to bet that if you could find a gene that produces large amounts of phosphorous locally and deposits it in tissue, that could be potentially engineered to be used in the eye and would yield the desired results.

    EDIT: Then again, I don't even know what determines eye pigmentation in an unmodded human. I don't even know what kind of tissue the iris is made up of. Perhaps that wouldn't be a good solution.
  • @Oak:  The iris is made of muscle tissue.  As for what genes produce UV-reactive pigments, the closest cousins of ours I can think of at the moment are certain species of angiosperm.  They have very interesting patterns only visible in UV light (and hence to bees), but we'd all probably prefer a closer relative than that...I'll see what I can find.
  • If it were possible you'd probably have to worry about bees homing in to your eyes.
  • Welcome to biohack.me Yang!

  • Why not start simpler? like say turning down melanin production to get blue eyes. once you have that it's easier to put in a gene that codes for another color ontop of the blue, say a bit of red to make purple eyes or red ones. The mutation that causes is blue eyes is known. It's in the HERC2 gene in the 86th intron. im going through some journals now to narrow that down. I dunno, id like to see more work on gene mods being done. they're harder sure but they offer such neat promise! and the idea of changing your eye color is fascinating.
  • Hmm that would also possibly alter the skin colour to something a bit paler.... I'm not sure if that is the reich way to go about this project.... sorry...

    also, there are already laser techniques for basically "zapping" the melanin out of eyes, and they seem to be permanent.

  • @Lucas_Dimoveo That study sounds great. I would love to do some work with that....
  • well that escalated quickly, clever thought. also that mutation won't affect everything else, that's why it was selected. far as i can tell it can affect eye color without affecting skin and hair. I only suggested it because it was one tiny mutation whereas production of a whole new protein means sticking a fairly large chunk of dna in which can have issues. a couple point mutations should be easier. In theory if you could design a homing endonuclease, presuming you already carry the mutation you simply get rid of the allele carrying the non mutation and have it replaced with the mutated copy. that said designing a homing endonuclease is a bitch to say the least.
  • I've put some thought into this a while back, and accidentally giving yourself albinism does seem to be a bit of a risk when modifying eye colour this way. It does, however, seem like HERC2 is the gene to target since this specific only alters transcription of OCA2 (which makes a protein which makes melanin) in the iris.

    Unfortunately, introducing a point mutation like that in a stable manner (since it has to be right next to the OCA2 gene on the chromosome for this to work) is really really difficult. Most gene therapies like that carry some risk of cancer, or of disrupting other genes. A homing endonuclease would definitely get around this, but would be both difficult, and permanent.

    I've mentioned this in another thread before, RNA interference could be the way to go for something like this. As long as you can target the iris somehow (liposomes with proteins on the surface?) interfering with the function of OCA2 should do the trick. Though one thing to remember is that the back of your iris is still meant to have melanin, even in blue eyes, otherwise you get red eyes and *way* more UV damage. This should be easier to do on our budget, though unfortunately I move country too often these days to set up a lab and try myself.
  • If you guys can figure out a way to get reflective eyes for dim-light vision the way cats have, let me know... I've been wanting to figure out a hack for that for years. That should eliminate the problem of light emanating directly from the eye while boosting vision.
  • @Severina the part of the eyes in cats that is reflective is called the Tapetum Lucidum, and while it does significantly boost dim/night vision, it's at a cost of day vision. The way this works is there is a thin layer behind the retina that reflects light back into the photoreceptors giving the animal a "second pass" this will however blur the image a bit. So while a cool idea, and I'm definitely on board for just the eyeshine effect, there are probably much better ways to gain better dim/night vision.
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