Eye experts at Southampton’s university hospitals have discovered a drug used to treat glaucoma can boost the growth and prominence of eyelashes.
In a year-long trial, researchers at Southampton General Hospital and Saint Louis University in the US analysed the effects of a daily application of bimatoprost to the upper eyelid of patients with poor eyelash growth, known as idiopathic hypotrichosis, or eyelash loss as a result of recent chemotherapy.
Conventionally, under the brand name Lumigan, the drug has been used in eye drop form to decrease the amount of fluid in the eye and reduce eye pressure, treating both glaucoma and ocular hypertension.
The study, published online by the British Journal of Dermatology, offers the first long-term investigation of the drug’s safety and effectiveness as a treatment for lengthening, thickening and darkening eyelashes using direct application to the eyelid.
Previous trials of the drug as a treatment for poor eyelash growth were limited to a duration of just four months, while no studies had reported it as a possible standard treatment option for former chemotherapy patients.
A total of 368 patients - four men and 364 women - of an average age of 50 years old took part in the study, which found length in those with idiopathic hypotrichosis increased from 5.69mm to 7.12mm after six months and thickness from 0.79mm2 to 1.30mm2.
Meanwhile, for patients with eyelash loss as a result of chemotherapy treatment, length increased from 4.87mm to 6.84mm and thickness from 0.39mm2 to 1.18mm2 over the same period.
Darkness, in which a negative change in intensity unit measurement indicates darker eyelashes, decreased from 149.29 to 127.95 among idiopathic patients and 156.16 to 132.65 in the chemotherapy group.
All six-month results were maintained or enhanced at 12 months.
Parwez Hossain, a consultant ophthalmologist at Southampton General and an associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Southampton, co-led the study, which was based at the NIHR Wellcome Trust Southampton Clinical Research Facility.
He said: “This study shows bimatoprost is a safe and effective treatment for eyelash growth over a sustained period of time for anyone affected by poor eyelash length, thickness and darkness.
“It also offers, for the first time, a viable, rapid treatment option for patients who have suffered eyelash loss as a result of chemotherapy, which is something we know has a strong negative impact on patients’ psychological wellbeing.”
Posted on Wednesday 5 November 2014