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Glaucoma drug thickens eyelashes

August 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
What's in a look? For women who want longer eyelashes -- apparently a lot. That's why a new drug that promises to grow longer, fuller lashes is getting a lot of attention. Actress Brooke Shields promotes the popular eyelash enhancer Latisse.

Who knew that inadequate or not enough lashes was a medical condition? And what exactly is Latisse?

"Latisse was originally sold as Lumigan, which is a glaucoma drug. But during drug trials, they found that the drug actually caused eyelashes to grow thicker. So the drug maker repackaged Lumigan as Latisse, an eyelash grower, and got approval from the FDA to sell it," said Lisa Lee Freeman, Consumer Reports.

Latisse claims to grow lashes in as little as eight weeks, but Consumer Reports says there are real drawbacks. Not only does it cost about $120 a month, you have to keep applying it or your eyelashes return to their previous appearance. And there are side effects.

And there are side effects.

"If you have light-colored eyes, they may turn brown," said dermatologist Dr. Amy Neuberger.

Dr. Neuberger says for that reason, she rarely prescribes Latisse to any of her patients with light-colored eyes.

And Consumer Reports says there are concerns that Latisse could conceal underlying glaucoma.

"As with any drug, you have to weigh the benefits against the risks. And with Latisse, the benefits are purely cosmetic. So we think the risks are not worth it for most people," said Freeman.

And Consumer Reports experts say while Latisse is FDA approved, there are some cosmetic eyelash-enhancing products on the market that are not regulated at all. Their advice is to steer clear.

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