The use of prescription medications like Latisse and even over-the-counter eyelash enhancing products such as City Lash, Smartlash, and RapidLash are gaining popularity and are widely available to consumers.  Latisse, being a prescription medication, has been clinically proven to increase thickness and growth of eyelashes, while the more readily available non-prescription products claim to enhance the length, thickness, and volume of eyelashes, but may not be substantiated by studies.  Latisse is a prostaglandin analog, indicated to treat loss or reduction of eyelashes by increasing their growth including length, darkness, and thickness.   Unlike Latisse, non-prescription serums that can be found at stores or bought online are composed of polypeptides, vitamins, proteins, and moisturizing agents which may encourage the appearance of fuller, longer lashes.  Prostaglandin analogs and polypeptides work at different times of the eyelash life cycle to prolong the growth phase, stimulate transition from the resting phase, or protect and strengthen the follicle.

Patients should be aware of the potential rare side effects that may occur from these products including changes in iris pigmentation, darkening of the lid tissue, redness of the whites of the eyes (conjunctiva), lowering of the pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure), and atrophy or wasting away of the surrounding lid tissue giving a sunken-in appearance to the eye over time.  Although these side effects are rare, and these products are generally thought of as relatively safe to use, several of the known side effects can be permanent.  Patients using these products should be closely monitored for changes, especially those who buy their products from non-eye care health professionals.  If unusual side effects are experienced, the patient should report them promptly and be evaluated by an eye care professional.

Tips on safe application of eyelash enhancing products:

  1. Apply on the skin of the upper eyelid margin at the base of the eyelashes at night only, and never on the bottom eyelid margin.
  2. Blot any excess solution that drips beyond the eyelid margin with a tissue, so that the product does not get into the eyes.
  3. Only use the applicators supplied with the product, and if multiple applicators are supplied with the product, discard the applicator after each use.
  4. Do not share products with friends or family, as sharing eye products may lead to the spread of infection.
  5. Remove contact lenses prior to applying product.
  6. If you have previously been diagnosed with glaucoma or an inflammatory condition of the eye, discuss use of Latisse and similar products with your eye care professional before beginning use.

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