Can eye drops replace reading glasses?

Eye drops that improve near vision could make misplaced reading glasses less of a problem for many of the 128 million Americans who suffer from age-related near vision deficits. Vuity, which became available by prescription Thursday, is a once-daily treatment that can help people see up close without affecting their long-term vision.

“For anyone who doesn’t want to play with reading glasses, this could be a very useful alternative,” said Dr. Scott M. MacRae, ophthalmologist at the Center for Visual Science at the University of Rochester. Dr MacRae was not involved in clinical trials for the drug, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late October.

Almost 90 percent of American adults over 45 have problems with near vision, a condition known as presbyopia that usually gets worse over time. To focus on nearby objects, the lens of the eye has to change shape, but it becomes less flexible as people age, making this process difficult. “Your ability to zoom decreases,” said Dr MacRae.

People with presbyopia often need to hold a book at arm’s length or turn on a bright light to read it, said Dr George O. Waring IV, ophthalmologist and medical director of the Waring Vision Institute in Mt. Pleasant. . , SC, who led the clinical trials of Vuity for the drug company Allergan. Typically, ophthalmologists recommend people with presbyopia wear over-the-counter or prescription reading glasses when they need to see up close, but Vuity may be an option for them as well, he said.

Vuity improves near vision by reducing the size of the pupil. “This makes the pupil small, creating what we call a pinhole effect,” thereby reducing the amount of peripheral light passing through the eye which can make it difficult to focus, said Dr Stephen Orlin, ophthalmologist at the University of Pennsylvania. Perelman School of Medicine.

The active ingredient in Vuity is a medicine called pilocarpine, and it is not a new medicine. It is actually “one of the oldest drops we have in ophthalmology,” said Dr. Orlin. It has been used for decades to treat glaucoma, a disease characterized by damage to the optic nerve. Although Vuity is the first product of its kind to treat presbyopia, at least nine similar eye drop products are in clinical development to treat presbyopia and may be available in the future, Dr Waring said.

Dr Waring and colleagues presented the results of their Phase 3 clinical trials, which have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, at the 2021 annual meeting of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive. Surgery in July. A single drop of Vuity in each eye improved the test subjects’ near vision for six hours and improved their intermediate vision – important for computer work – for 10 hours.

The advantage of Vuity over reading glasses is that it does not affect distance vision like reading glasses do. Usually, when a person stops reading to do something else, they have to take off their reading glasses to see well. “That’s the good part about it – the drops don’t really affect far vision under normal daylight conditions,” said Dr MacRae.

Dr MacRae also noted that Vuity will work best for people who only have mild to moderate presbyopia, which likely means people aged 45 to 55. Older people with more severe presbyopia may find that eye drops do not improve their near vision. enough to make a difference.

Vuity does not correct regular nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism – it only improves age-related deficits in near vision. So people with other eye errors will want to continue wearing glasses or contact lenses even if they are also using Vuity, noted Dr. MacRae.

And the drops aren’t meant to be a complete replacement for reading glasses, Dr Waring said. People with presbyopia will likely want to own reading glasses as well, but Vuity can reduce the time it takes to wear them.

“For some people this will work very well,” said Dr MacRae.

Vuity isn’t typically covered by health or vision insurance, and Dr Waring said it could cost around $ 80 per 30-day supply.

Although clinical trials reported no serious side effects, 14.9 percent of subjects who took Vuity reported mild headaches, compared to 7 percent of subjects who took placebo drops. Up to 5 percent of subjects taking Vuity reported other side effects such as red eye, blurred vision, eye pain, visual impairment, eye irritation, and increased tear production.

Because eye drops reduce the size of the pupil, they also make it more difficult to see in the dark, so they are not recommended for people who drive at night or who need to see well in poor conditions. low light for other reasons, Dr Waring said.

Melinda Wenner Moyer is a science journalist and author of How To Raise Kids Who Are Not Assholes.

About Marion Alexander

Check Also

How to Get a Free Book from the New York Public Library This Summer

The New York Public Library wants New Yorkers to have a productive summer, and it’s …