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.