January 20, 2021/Eye Care

What To Know About the Drug That Grows Thick Eyelashes

This glaucoma drug can also thicken lashes, just note side effects

closeup of eye and eyelashes

It’s rare for the same medication to be used for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes. But bimatoprost (also sold under the name brand Latisse®) pulls double duty. In addition to treating glaucoma, it can be used to grow and thicken eyelashes.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

It’s effective for both purposes, but is it safe? Can it cause lasting changes to your eyes? The answer to both questions, according to ophthalmologist Julian Perry, MD, is yes.

“You must remember to follow the administration instructions as specified if you want to lower the risk of any side effects,” he says. “If you use it properly, you’re exposing the eye to only 5% of the drug as compared to the eye drop method used to treat glaucoma.”

Hormone-like effects

On its own, bimatoprost is a prostaglandin – a fatty acid that has hormone-like effects on the body. As an eye drop medication, it’s used to treat glaucoma by relieving the pressure inside the eye.

It should be noted however that this fatty acid can cause light irises to become darker over the years. For example, it can cause permanent brown discoloration of the iris over months or years of use. Another side effect is known as periorbital fat atrophy – a hollowing-out appearance of the eyelids. This fat atrophy is permanent and can be severe, so you should stop using it immediately if you notice symptoms.

In an eyelash grower however, bimatoprost’s function and effects are slightly different.

How an eyelash grower works

Before application, wash your hands and face, removing any makeup. The solution is used once nightly and is placed at the roots of the upper eyelashes with a single-use applicator. It works by creating more hair follicles during the hair-growing cycle.

Latisse is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use on the upper eyelashes only. It may spread to the lower lashes as you blink, but the primary effect will be on the upper eyelashes only. Don’t worry if any medication gets into your eye, Dr. Perry says, as it’s used to treat glaucoma and is unlikely to cause damage.

Results usually appear within two months. If you stop using eyelash grower, your eyelashes will gradually return to their original state.

Safe for most users

The FDA approved Latisse for eyelash growth in 2008, and it’s deemed safe for for adults. Because bimatoprost is the main ingredient, if you have glaucoma and are already treating it with medication, consult your ophthalmologist before using Latisse, Dr. Perry says.

In particular, mention if you’re already using latanoprost or travoprost. Using these drugs in combination with Latisse can increase treatment side effects.

Side effects can fade with this use

While bimatoprost’s side effects are permanent used alone, when used in eyelash grower they can fade when you stop using the product, Dr. Perry says. Patients can experience eyelid itching, dry eye, eyelid darkening and bloodshot eyes. Eye and eyelid swelling, as well as some allergic reactions, are possible, according to the FDA.

More significant reactions include increased eyelash growth in the corners of the eyes and excessive eyebrow growth if the medication touches them.

Advertisement

Report any eye pain, infection or vision changes to your ophthalmologist immediately, Dr. Perry says.

Eyelash grower and contacts

If you wear contacts and want to use Latisse, you should know that the FDA warns that your contacts can absorb the product, which can discolor your contacts. Remove your contacts before you apply the solution, and wait 15 minutes before putting them back in.

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Adult receiving eye drops from a healthcare provider
May 10, 2024/Eye Care
When Is It Too Late To Treat Lazy Eye?

While it’s best to fix amblyopia during childhood, it can also be addressed as an adult

Male holding pill and glass of water, with assorted alcohol behind him crossed out
April 22, 2024/Primary Care
Why You Should Avoid Alcohol on Antibiotics

Even a little alcohol can slow your recovery, so it’s best to wait until after you finish your antibiotics before imbibing

Person vacuuming around living room
April 17, 2024/Eye Care
5 Tips for Coping With Geographic Atrophy

Preserving your social life and protecting your mental health are key to living well with vision loss

Person holding up sunglasses
April 16, 2024/Eye Care
9 Tips for Living Well With Geographic Atrophy

Start low-vision rehabilitation as soon as possible and see your retina specialist at least every six months

Colorblind glasses showing houses on shoreline in color
April 11, 2024/Eye Care
What We Know About Color Blind Glasses

These trendy glasses might brighten some shades and help you see the difference between colors or brightness of hues, but they won’t cure your color vision deficiency

Variety of foods that contain the antioxidant lutein
April 4, 2024/Nutrition
What Is Lutein? Learn About Its Health Benefits

This powerful carotenoid can help with your eye and skin health, LDL reduction and cognitive function

Person with pink eye
March 22, 2024/Eye Care
Here’s How To Get Rid of Pink Eye Fast

Eye drops and cold water rinses can help speed up healing for viral and allergen-related conjunctivitis, but a bacterial infection will need antibiotics

Eye doctor holding glasses and a prescription
March 20, 2024/Eye Care
Got a New Eye Prescription? Here’s What It Means

Your eye prescription reveals a lot about your eye health, including how they’re shaped, how well you see and what your new glasses can do for your sight

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey

Ad