There is one category of medication in eye drop form that can change the color of the eye; this is the category known as prostaglandin analogs. Prostaglandin analogs include Lumigan, Xalatan and Travatan. These eye drops are all used to lower eye pressure in patients who have, or are at risk, for developing glaucoma. The active ingredient in Lumigan, known as bimatoprost, has also been marketed as Latisse for its ability to enhance eyelash growth.
The eye gets its color from the iris. The iris has a front and a back layer. The back layer is composed of black pigment in nearly everyone. The front layer of the iris, nearer to the cornea, is where your eye color is determined. The more pigment that the cells in the front layer of the iris produce, the darker your eye color.
Eye Drop Effect on Iris Pigment Cells
The prostaglandin analog eye drops can cause the pigment cells in the iris to release more pigment. This increase in pigment causes darkening of the eye color of a person with lighter colored eyes, such as blue or green. These changes do not occur in all people who use the eye drops. However, when they do occur, the color change is permanent.
Prevelance of Eye Color Change
Darkening of the color of the iris is classified as a side effect of the prostaglandin analog eye drops. As such, eye color is not affected by these eye drops in all people. Those with blue eyes or green eyes have a larger risk for eye color change as their eyes have a greater potential to become darker. According to RxList, the range of risk for eye color change across all the prostaglandin analogs is between 1 percent and 15 percent.
Use in One Eye Only
Because eye color change from the prostaglandin analogs is permanent, one must be careful when using the eye drops in one eye only. If the one eye has a color change, the patient could be left with two different eye colors. If a prostaglandin analog is required for one eye only, and the eye color is altered, the person's eye color can be corrected with a colored contact lens.
Eyelid Color Change
The prostaglandin analog eye drops, particularly Latisse, can cause the skin color around the eye lashes to be altered. Most often, people with darkly pigmented eyelid skin may experience lightening of the skin on the eyelids. These changes are also permanent.