Latisse: The Hilarity of FDA Approved Prescription Eyelash Treatment

Above, the beautiful Brooke Sheilds. Below, the beautiful Brooke Shields (with longer eyelashes).
Above, the beautiful Brooke Sheilds. Below, the beautiful Brooke Shields (with longer eyelashes).

Aging is such a cruel process. Bones become brittle. Memory fades. Energy wanes. Arteries clog. And yes, our once-lush eyelashes fade away to practically nothing. Thank God for calcium supplements, statins and bimatoprost ophthalmic solution.

Oh, that last one is new to you? Spokeswoman Brooke Shields would love to tell you all about this wonder drug, also known as LATISSE® (and she does, in the online diary she keeps on the Latisse website).  It has made her lashes fuller, darker and longer. And you can enjoy the same results by seeking a prescription from your doctor to buy Latisse, which the FDA approved for use in treating “inadequate” eyelashes in December. (We’re thinking–or rather, hoping–you might have trouble getting insurance to cover this pre-existing condition…)

And if you have glaucoma, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone. Turns out Latisse is actually a re-branded version of Lumigan, the anti-glaucoma drug made by Allergan, which sells both products (as well as other aesthetic product offerings included Botox and breast implants).  And, as with Lumigan, using Latisse presents some possible side effects, including irritated or dry eyes, red eyelids and darkening of the skin around the eyes. As well as much more menacing ones.

While Latisse and Lumigan are the same thing, there are important difference in how they are used. Latisse users are directed to carefully apply the liquid to the eyelash. Lumigan users put drops of the drug right into the eye.

But the FDA is less than pleased with how Allergan presents the safety information associated with the product. In a September 10 letter to Allergan, the FDA lists a number of safety and marketing claims on the Latisse site that it calls “misleading because they omit and minimize risks associated with Latisse treatment”.

One piece of information that the FDA sites Latisse for omitting is that those who fail to use the Latisse applicators properly are at risk for developing bacterial keratitis, a fast-developing eye infection that can cause blindness.  Also highlighted in the letter is that Latisse notes that “increased brown iris pigmentation has occurred when similar medications were instilled directly into the eye to treat elevated intraocular pressure/glaucoma.” This statement is incorrect, explains the FDA, because these “similar” medications that Latisse refers to here is actually Lumigan, which has shown to permanently change iris pigmentation in patients who take that drug.

Freelance writer Mary Catherine O'Connor finds that a growing number of companies are proving the ways that they can make good financially, socially and environmentally (as the triple bottom line theory suggests).With that in mind, she contributes to Triple Pundit, as well as to Earth2Tech and other pubs focused on sustainability. She also writes The Good Route, an Outside Magazine blog that addresses the intersection of sustainability and the active/outdoor life.To find out more, or to reach her, go to

16 responses

  1. The flipping FDA is a fraud. They routinely approve drugs that are known to be harmful to the body. And they let this type of marketing slide. They sent a letter! I mean, please! Oh no, the FDA sent a letter saying that they were not happy about the advertisements. In fact if any small company started to sell something to cure a “disease,” everything’s a disease nowadays, that company would be raided and shutdown as soon as the FDA heard about it. To be unable to grow full and dark eyelashes is not a disease. Do you remember restless leg syndrome?

    1. Restless leg syndrome is an actual condition- it feels like the the veins and muscles on the insides of your legs are moving around. I get it in my whole body. It’s awful. I am a nurse so I see people that could benefit from Latisse- people need to feel good about the way they look to have a healthy mind. If people want to spend their hard-earned money on this its their own business. There really are very little side effects from this drug and the main ones are mentioned.

  2. I know someone who uses Lumigan for Glaucoma, and yes, his eye lashes are thicker. I assume the company discovered this side effect, and decided to market the drug for beauty. Viagra is I believe a similar story.
    This is a prescription drug, and it wasn’t developed to grow thicker eyelashes, so some people are willing to take a risk to get lashes…and some are not.

  3. i work for a medi spa and daily see injections of botox, to deremafillers such as juviderme, restylne, ect. as well  as prescriptions of latisse. its a buisness and for us and it makes them feel better about there self. of course nothing is perfect and the fda is always coming out with different warnings but i still see same customers monthly or every few months, i as well get botox and fillers every few months and always use latisse daily for at least 2 years now . now im only 24 but my generation tans exccesively,does everything to there hiar possible, and folows every trend this is normal. so to sum up evryone has an opion about everything i lile the way i look and feel but for other people they wont take chance to im prove and we shouldnt push them.

  4. While these products are made by the same company, and are the exact
    same medication and strength, you have to have a diagnosis of Glaucoma
    in order to get Lumigan through your pharmacy. It would not be
    appropriate for any physician to “misdiagnose” you in order for you to
    get longer eyelashes covered by your prescription plan.

  5. My eyebrows were falling out (like completely) due to a skin condition and Latisse has grown them back. Understand that most of you think this if a vanity issue…but…am sure if your eyebrows were falling out…(your face would look pretty odd without them…trust me) you would do whatever you could to grow them back.

  6. For those who have lossed lashes due to illness (alopecia, chemotherapy) this is wonderful! Your eyelashes serve a purpose, to keep or filter small particles and sweat from getting into your eyes. You never realize how useful they are until they all fall out.

  7. The active compound in all the medicine (latisse and lumigan) is bimatoprost, which is same. The only difference is the name. They all are manufactured by different companies and traded in different geo location.

  8. Yeah, honestly, you can use latisse for eyelashes without symptoms if you just follow the directions and avoid getting the treatment in your eye. My mom and myself have used Latisse for years. The only thing I’ve ever experienced is some slight irritation at the base of my eyelid. It hasn’t made my green eyes brown. I don’t think it’s a dangerous medication at all. I’ve also heard of cancer patients using this after losing hair from chemo, which is pretty cool.

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