Longer, fuller, darker lashes – sounds like a dream. And Latisse (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution) is the only FDA approved medication to improve eyelashes. But there are still a lot of questions surrounding how safe Latisse actually is. So let’s break it down.
First a little background.
In 2001, pharmaceutical giant Allergan developed a medicated eye drop called Lumigan to treat glaucoma. Many glaucoma patients noticed that their eyelashes grew fuller, longer and darker while on the medication. Studies then showed that bimatoprost (the active ingredient in Lumigan) was safe and effective for this use, resulting in Latisse, the only FDA approved solution to improve eyelashes for people with thin or not enough.
Ok, but is it really safe?
The FDA says Latisse is safe and effective when appropriately prescribed and used as directed. Some people should not use Latisse, like pregnant or breastfeeding women, or patients with certain eye infections or recent eye surgeries.
I heard it will change my eye color.
Most people want to know if Latisse will change their blue eyes to brown. In the original FDA trials for Lumigan (the glaucoma eye drop mentioned above) the incidence of hazel or light brown eyes turning darker was 1-2% (3). Keep in mind, these patients were applying the medication directly into the eye. With Latisse, you use an applicator to apply the medication to the upper eyelid and not to the eye itself. Permanent dark eye color change is rare and, to date, there are no publicly available reports of eye color change.
What about other side effects?
The most common side effects are itchy and red eyes or eyelids and the darkening on the skin on the upper eyelid (4). The FDA says Latisse is safe and effective when appropriately prescribed and used as directed. When you talk to your doctor about Latisse, be sure to discuss all your questions, and whether or not it is safe for you to use.
A note on side effects and safety information:
Latisse (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution) is FDA approved for the treatment of inadequate eyelashes (eyelash hypotrichosis). Do not use Latisse if you are allergic to Latisse or it’s ingredients, have glaucoma, or are currently treating it with medicated eye drops. Do not use Latisse if you are pregnant, possibly pregnant, or breastfeeding. Latisse may cause brown darkening of the colored part of the eye which is likely permanent or may cause eyelid skin darkening which may be reversible. If discontinued, lashes gradually return to previous appearance. For more information on contraindications, interactions, and potential side effects, please read the risks and benefits in important safety information.
Fagien, Steven, John G. Walt, Jean Carruthers, Sue Ellen Cox, David Wirta, Emily Weng, and Frederick C. Beddingfield 3rd. 2013. “Patient-Reported Outcomes of Bimatoprost for Eyelash Growth: Results from a Randomized, Double-Masked, Vehicle-Controlled, Parallel-Group Study.” Aesthetic Surgery Journal / the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery 33 (6): 789–98.
What are the most important things I need to know about LATISSE®?
In patients using LUMIGAN® (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution) or other prostaglandin analogs for the treatment of elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), the concomitant use of LATISSE® may interfere with the desired reduction in IOP. Patients using prostaglandin analogs including LUMIGAN® for IOP reduction should only use LATISSE® after consulting with their physician and should be monitored for changes to their intraocular pressure.
Increased iris pigmentation (brown darkening of the colored part of the eye) has occurred when bimatoprost solution was administered. Please be advised of the potential for increased brown iris pigmentation, which is likely to be permanent.
Bimatoprost has been reported to cause pigment changes (darkening) to the tissues around the eyes and eyelashes. The pigmentation is expected to increase as long as bimatoprost is administered, but has been reported to be reversible upon discontinuation of bimatoprost in most patients.
There is the potential for hair growth to occur in areas where LATISSE® solution comes in repeated contact with skin surfaces. Apply LATISSE® only to the skin of the upper eyelid margin at the base of the eyelashes. DO NOT APPLY LATISSE® to the lower lid.
LATISSE® solution should be used with caution in patients with active intraocular inflammation (eg, uveitis) because the inflammation may be exacerbated.
Who should not use LATISSE®?
Do not use LATISSE® if you:
Are allergic to one of the ingredients in LATISSE®
Are under 18 or if you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding
If you use/used prescription products for eye pressure problems, use LATISSE® under your doctor’s care.
What are the most common side effects of LATISSE®?
In clinical trials of LATISSE®, the most frequently reported side effects were:
conjunctival hyperemia (redness of the eye)
skin hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin)
dry eye symptoms
and erythema (redness) of the eyelid.
These adverse events occurred in less than 4% of participants.
Postmarketing Experience: The following reactions have been identified during postmarketing use of LATISSE® in clinical practice:
eyelid edema (swelling)
hypersensitivity (local allergic reactions)
increased tear production
madarosis and trichorrhexis (temporary loss of a few eyelashes to loss of sections of eyelashes, and temporary eyelash breakage, respectively)
periorbital and lid changes associated with a deepening of the eyelid sulcus (fold where the eyelid meets the lower eyebrow)
rash (including macular and erythematous)
skin discoloration around the eye (periorbital)
and vision blurred.
What is the FDA-approved use of LATISSE®?
LATISSE® (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution) 0.03% is indicated to treat hypotrichosis (thinning of the eyelashes) of the eyelashes by increasing their growth, including length, thickness, and darkness.
When should I call my primary provider?
Call your primary provider right away if you:
Experience a new eye condition (trauma or infection or injury)
Experience a sudden change/decrease in vision
Have eye surgery
Develop any eye reactions, especially eye redness and eyelid reactions
Develop any new symptom while on Latisse
Start a medication to lower the pressure in your eye. Patients on eye pressure lowering medications should not use Latisse without prior consultation with their eye physician.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.
What should I tell my Rory-affiliated provider before using LATISSE®?
Tell your Rory-affiliated provider all of the medications you are currently taking, if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, or if you have a history of:
Glaucoma or increased intraocular pressure
Have or have a history of macular edema
Have or have a history of intraocular inflammation
Have any other condition affecting your eyes
Have recently had a procedure on one or both eyes, including lasik surgery
Are using any intraocular medications
Withholding or providing inaccurate information about your health and medical history in order to obtain treatment may result in harm, including, in some cases, death.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription products to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.