Glaucoma treatment's peculiar side effect: longer eyelashes

Patients being treated for glaucoma with bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03% (Lumigan), who use the drug to reduce IOP, have been noticing a surprising side effect: longer and thicker eyelashes.

San Francisco-Patients being treated for glaucoma with bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03% (Lumigan), who use the drug to reduce IOP, have been noticing a surprising side effect: longer and thicker eyelashes.

"There is no question that in many patients it can make the eyelashes grow," said Andrew Iwach, MD, a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and a San Francisco ophthalmologist specializing in glaucoma. "Some people's lashes grow so long that, if they're wearing glasses, they rub the glasses."

Cosmetic companies have taken notice but not without FDA concern. U.S. marshals seized more than 12,000 Jan Marini lash-boosters in November, citing FDA safety concerns and calling it an "unapproved and misbranded drug."

Side effects from using this product can include redness and irritation, as well as (less frequently) a darkening of the eye and eyelid, which can be permanent. "If you are using a drug to stop someone from going blind, you can put up with a little redness, maybe even a change in the iris color," Dr. Iwach said. "But if you're using it for cosmetic purposes, the threshold will be higher."