Xalatan (Latanoprost) – Ophthalmic

What Is Xalatan?

Xalatan is a prescription eye drop medicine used to treat adults with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension (increased pressure in the eye). Xalatan belongs to a group of drugs called prostaglandin analogs. It lowers eye pressure by increasing the flow of fluid out of the eye.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Latanoprost

Brand Name(s): Xalatan

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Prostaglandin analog

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: No

Administration Route: Ophthalmic

Active Ingredient: Latanoprost

Dosage Form(s): Eye drops

What Is Xalatan Used For?

Xalatan is a medication used to treat open-angle glaucoma and ocular hypertension (increased pressure in the eye) in adults.

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve in the eye. It affects about 3 million people in the United States. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form and causes eye pressure to increase. Without treatment, open-angle glaucoma can progress and cause vision loss and blindness.

Because symptoms don't usually occur until there is severe damage, it's important to get regular eye exams to catch glaucoma early, especially if you are over age 40 or have other risk factors, such as type 2 diabetes or a family history of glaucoma.

Medications like Xalatan can help keep eye pressure within a healthy range, slow optic nerve damage, and prevent vision loss.

How to Take Xalatan

Following your healthcare provider's instructions, administer one drop of Xalatan into one or both eyes once daily in the evening. Do not take Xalatan more than once daily—this can cause the opposite effect and actually increase eye pressure.

Follow these tips to administer Xalatan safely and effectively:

  • Wash your hands before administering your dose.
  • If you wear contact lenses, remove them before using Xalatan. Do not reinsert your contacts for at least 15 minutes after administering your dose.
  • If you use other eye drops, separate the doses by at least five minutes.
  • Using your index finger, gently pull down your lower eyelid to form a pocket.
  • Look up and squeeze one drop into your eye.
  • Do not let the tip of the bottle touch your eye.
  • Close your eyes and gently press the corner of your eyes near your nose for three to five minutes. This ensures the medication stays in your eye and does not drain down the back of your throat or leak onto your face—both of which can cause side effects.
  • If any medication comes out of your eye, gently blot with a tissue. Do not rub your eye.
  • Replace the cap on the bottle immediately after administering your dose.

Storage

Keep unopened Xalatan bottles in the refrigerator. Once opened, you may store Xalatan in the refrigerator or at room temperature (about 77 degrees Fahrenheit) for six weeks. Keep Xalatan and all your medicines in a safe location, out of the reach of children and pets.

How Long Does Xalatan Take to Work?

Xalatan begins to lower intraocular pressure within three to four hours, with the max effect occurring eight to 12 hours after administration.

What Are the Side Effects of Xalatan?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on adverse reactions. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Xalatan may cause unwanted reactions. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know about any side effects that bother you or don't go away. Common side effects include:

  • Darkening of the iris (colored part of your eye), eyelid, and eyelashes
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye burning or stinging
  • Watery, itchy, or red eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Feeling like you have something in your eye
  • Increased eyelash growth

Severe Side Effects

Rarely, Xalatan may cause serious side effects. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you develop any signs of a severe reaction. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening.

Serious side effects and their symptoms include:

  • Eye inflammation (uveitis/iritis): Let your healthcare provider know if you develop any eye redness, light sensitivity, blurry vision, floaters, or pain in the eye.
  • Macular edema: This is a buildup of fluid in a part of the eye called the macula. Signs include blurry or wavy vision near the center of your visual field.
  • Viral infection of the eye caused by the herpes simplex virus: Xalatan can reactivate this virus if you have had ocular herpes in the past. Symptoms include eye pain or redness, blurry vision, sensitivity to light, or watery discharge.
  • Bacterial infection of the eye: Let your healthcare provider know if you develop eye pain, redness, discharge, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, or excessive tearing.

Long-Term Side Effects

Xalatan may cause your iris (colored part of your eye) to become browner. For some people, this change may be permanent, even after stopping Xalatan. Changes in eye color can occur months to years after starting Xalatan. Let your healthcare provider know if you notice any changes to your eye color.

Report Side Effects

Xalatan may cause other adverse reactions. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Xalatan Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For ophthalmic emulsion dosage form (eye drops):
    • For glaucoma or hypertension of the eye:
      • Adults—One drop in the affected eye once a day in the evening.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

The following modifications (changes) should be kept in mind when using Xalatan:

Severe allergic reaction: Avoid using Xalatan if you have a known allergy to it or its ingredients. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider for a complete list of the ingredients if you're unsure.

Pregnancy: In animal studies, Xalatan administered intravenously (IV) caused harm to fetuses. Not enough is known about the safety and effectiveness of Xalatan in pregnant humans and fetuses. Still, pregnant people should generally avoid Xalatan and medications like it. Let your healthcare provider know if you're pregnant or plan to become pregnant, and discuss the benefits and risks of taking Xalatan during your pregnancy.

Breastfeeding: Not enough is known about the safety of Xalatan in human breast milk or on nursing babies. Talk with your healthcare provider if you plan to breastfeed. Discuss the benefits and risks of taking Xalatan while nursing and the different ways to feed your baby.

Adults over 65 years old: During clinical studies, adults over age 65 did not show any overall differences in the safety or effectiveness of Xalatan compared to adults younger than this age group.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using Xalatan in children have not been established. Xalatan is not approved for use in children.

Missed Dose

If you forget to take a dose of Xalatan, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the normally scheduled time.

Try to help yourself remember to keep your appointments and take your medication routinely. If you miss too many doses, Xalatan might be less effective at lowering eye pressure.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Xalatan?

Using extra Xalatan should not cause overdose symptoms, but it can make Xalatan less effective. Be sure to review your prescription and discuss any questions you have with your healthcare provider.

However, if you think you're experiencing an overdose or life-threatening symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

What Happens If I Overdose on Xalatan?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Xalatan, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Xalatan, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.

If itching, redness, swelling, or other signs of eye or eyelid irritation occur, check with your doctor. These signs may mean that you are allergic to this medicine.

This medicine may cause blurred vision or other vision problems. If these occur, do not drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are not able to see well. If these eye changes are bothersome, check with your doctor.

While you are using latanoprost, the iris (colored part) of your treated eye may slowly become more brown in color. This is more likely to happen if you have blue-brown, gray-brown, green-brown, or yellow-brown eyes. You may notice this change usually within several months or years from the start of treatment. You may also have darkening of the eyelid skin color or longer, thicker, and darker eyelashes. These changes to the iris, eyelid, and lashes may be permanent even if you stop using latanoprost. However, any of these changes will affect only the eye being treated with latanoprost. Check with your doctor if you have any concerns about this.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Xalatan?

Do not take Xalatan if you are allergic to latanoprost, benzalkonium chloride, or any other ingredient in Xalatan. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider for a full list of the ingredients if you're unsure.

What Other Medications Interact With Xalatan?

Xalatan should not be used with other prostaglandin analog eye drops since it can cause increased eye pressure. Prostaglandin analog eye drops include:

  • Lumigan (bimatoprost)
  • Zioptan (tafluprost)
  • Travatan Z (travoprost)

Medicines other than these may interact with Xalatan. Be sure to inform your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all your medications, including over-the-counter, nonprescription products, vitamins, or herbal or plant-based medicines.

What Medications Are Similar?

Xalatan is a prostaglandin analog. Other prostaglandin analog eye drops include:

  • Lumigan (bimatoprost)
  • Zioptan (tafluprost)
  • Travatan Z (travoprost)

All prostaglandin analogs are taken once daily at bedtime and have similar side effects. Some people may respond better to one product over another. You and your healthcare provider will work together to determine the best option for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Xalatan used for?

    Xalatan is used to lower pressure inside the eye in adults with glaucoma and ocular hypertension (elevated eye pressure).

  • How does Xalatan work?

    Xalatan helps lower eye pressure by increasing the flow of fluid out of the eye.

  • How long does it take for Xalatan to work?

    Xalatan begins to lower eye pressure a few hours after taking it.

  • What are the side effects of Xalatan?

    The most common side effects of Xalatan include eye redness, itching, stinging, or pain, or feeling like you have something in your eye. 

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Xalatan?

A glaucoma diagnosis can be overwhelming—anything that threatens your vision and how you interact with the world is a lot to handle. Fortunately, medications like Xalatan can help protect your sight. While living with glaucoma does have its challenges, there are ways to help improve your quality of life. The following recommendations can help support your health:

  • Follow up with all healthcare appointments and eye exams.
  • Take glaucoma-related medications as recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • If you take multiple eye drops, talk with your healthcare provider about when to administer each one. Setting alarms on your phone can be a helpful reminder.
  • Develop an exercise routine, under your provider's guidance. Regular exercise is essential for overall health, but certain activities, such as lifting heavy weights, or exercising in positions that put your head below your heart, such as yoga, can increase eye pressure and should be avoided.
  • Maintain a healthy weight, keep your blood pressure in check, and avoid smoking.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Marshall LL, Hayslett RL, Stevens GA. Therapy for open-angle glaucomaConsult Pharm. 2018;33(8):432-445. doi:10.4140/TCP.n.2018.432

  4. National Eye Institute. Uveitis.

  5. National Eye Institute. Macular edema.

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By Christina Varvatsis, PharmD
Christina Varvatsis is a hospital pharmacist and freelance medical writer. She is passionate about helping individuals make informed healthcare choices by understanding the benefits and risks of their treatment options.