Many women wanting denser and more prominent eyelashes visit their cosmetologists to help them achieve this look. In the United States, an eyedrop solution containing 0.03 percent of the drug bimatoprost was approved in 2008 for people with sparse growth of eyelashes. This research reviewed studies that have tested the efficacy of this drug. The results showed that bimatoprost causes improved growth of eyelashes. The drug enhances the length, darkness and thickness of the lashes.
Various cultures and traditions consider eyes as the feature that contributes the most to facial beauty. Consequently, many women desire long, dark, full, and thick eyelashes to enhance the beauty of their eyes. Women with sparse or thinly growing eyelashes or who have lost their eyelashes to disease or trauma experience considerable psychological distress. Eyelashes function more than just adding to beautification of the eyes: they protect the eyes against dirt and dust. Loss of eyelashes to disease or injury is called “madarosis”. Of the various methods available to enhance the eyelashes, some are purely cosmetic and temporary, such as the use of mascara or wearing artificial lashes. More permanent methods use hair transplant techniques for eyelashes, which is painful and complicated. Recently, the United States Food and Drugs Administration, approved eyedrops containing 0.03% bimatoprost for use in patients suffering from thin and sparse eyelash growth. This review looked at previous studies that evaluated the effectiveness of this drug.
This study reviewed all the studies on laboratory animals as well as later studies on humans that used bimatoprost. Bimatoprost is originally a drug that is used in an eye condition called glaucoma. This review also included those studies where bimatoprost had been used in glaucoma patients and had caused a change in eyelash growth as an additional effect. It looked at the actual molecular mechanism by which bimatoprost acts in madarosis.
- Results from the review of studies revealed that bimatoprost increases the number of hair follicles or roots of the eyelashes in a particular phase of their growth, called “anagen”. The increased number of hair makes the eyelashes fuller and denser.
- Bimatoprost increases the length of the eyelashes. Besides, it increases the girth of the eyelash hair follicle, causing individual hair in the eyelashes to become thicker and fuller. Bimatoprost also stimulates the hair darkening pigment melanin, thus darkening the lashes.
- These effects are mainly seen in animal studies in the laboratory and in human trials with the drug.
- Bimatoprost eye application over the eyelid margins, as compared to eye drops, appears to be safe in humans, from the human trials. Common side effects with eye drops include reddening of the eyes and darkening of the irises. These are seen less commonly when the drug is applied directly over the lid margins.
Most of the reviewed clinical studies involved people who were healthy. It is not yet known if the drug can act with similar efficacy in people who have lost their eyelashes to an injury or a disease. The authors suggest further studies that can evaluate the effectiveness of bimatoprost in these individuals.
This study is a review of existing evidence regarding the effectiveness of 0.03 percent bimatoprost in improving the growth of eyelashes. This review looks at studies on animals in the laboratory as well as those replicated in humans. Results on humans also show benefits on all counts of eyelash growth. The lengthening of the lashes is found to be due to the increase in number of hair follicles remaining in the “anagen” phase of hair growth. Further, a review of past human trials has also revealed that application, over the upper eyelid margins, using a special device, minimizes side effects such as reddening of the eyes. This beneficial effect of bimatoprost was initially found by chance, when it was used to treat an eye condition called glaucoma. From this review, the authors conclude, “With many women wishing to improve the appearance of their eyelashes, bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03 percent provides a new, safe, and effective option for growing natural eyelashes, making them longer, thicker or fuller and darker.”
For More Information:
Enhancing the Growth of Natural Eyelashes: The Mechanism of Bimatoprost-Induced Eyelash Growth
Publication Journal: American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, 2010
By Joel L Cohen MD
From the University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado