A brand new type of prescription eye drops could help people in their 40s and 50s who want to ditch their reading glasses.
“It’s pretty revolutionary because getting rid of reading glasses has been a holy grail in ophthalmology for patients who otherwise have good vision. They don’t want to wear glasses, ”said Dr. Richard Davidson, a specialist in cataract, cornea and refraction surgery at the UCHealth Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Eye Center.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved eye drops to treat what is officially called presbyopia. For people in their early to mid-forties who suddenly can’t see texts on their phones, menus in dark restaurants, printouts in books or newspapers, or the tiny letters on pill bottles, the condition – if not its official name – is too familiar.
Almost all adults will eventually face age-related presbyopia or hyperopia. People find that they can see objects in the distance very well, but up close their vision gradually deteriorates.
Until now, the cure for presbyopia has been reading glasses, or for those who already have glasses or contact lenses, bifocal or progressive lenses (also called no-line bifocals).
“The FDA has never approved anything like this before,” said Davidson, who is a team physician for the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, an endowed chair of eye care innovation and professor of ophthalmology at. the University of Colorado School of Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.
Davidson has already received calls from patients seeking prescriptions for the new eye drops. Many make an appointment so that they can try the drops as soon as possible. Davidson expects the drops to be popular with millions of people across the country.
“It’s for people who otherwise have good distance vision,” Davidson said. “The average age when people start needing reading glasses is 42 or 43 years old. “
Allergan, the company that makes the new drops, announced they were available on December 9. FDA health experts approved the new drops in October, marking the first time the federal regulatory agency has given the green light to any type of presbyopia drug, Davidson says.
“There has been a ton of research going on. How can we get rid of the need for reading glasses? Davidson said.
During clinical trials for the new drops, Davidson said volunteers who received the drug (as opposed to placebo) noticed significant improvement in their vision without facing major side effects.
“These new eye drops will make a big difference to people in their 40s and beyond who find they need reading glasses,” Davidson said.
While eye drops are great for many patients, there are a few caveats, Davidson said. People will need to use the drops every day. And, they’re not covered by health insurance, so patients who want to stop using reading glasses will need to spend around $ 80 per month. The drops are expected to work best on people between the ages of 40 and 55.
The drug is called pilocarpine HCl 1.25% ophthalmic solution and the brand name is Vuity.
During clinical trials, 750 participants, aged 40 to 55, who already suffered from presbyopia, were randomly divided into two groups. One group received the new drug while the others received a placebo. All participants used one drop per day in each eye.
Allergan researchers found statistically significant improvements in vision and no serious adverse events.
Those interested in trying the new drops should make an appointment with their eye doctor. To reach the UCHealth Susan Anschutz-Rodgers Eye Center on the Anschutz campus or other locations in the Denver area and Boulder, call 720-848-2020.
Editor’s Note: Dr Davidson has not worked on clinical trials, has not received research funding from Allergan, and has no financial interest in the drug.