PITTSBURGH — If you have readers everywhere and still can’t find a pair when you need them, the idea of a simple eye drop to help you ditch the readers is very appealing, but do they really work?
Channel 11 consumer researcher Angie Moreschi takes a closer look at the new Vuity eye drops to see how well they work to fight eye aging.
Donald Davis, 49, sat in the patient chair of his optometrist’s office in Warrendale and effortlessly read the fine print on the eye chart.
“4-2-8-3-6-5,” Davis said, easily reading the numbers on the card and getting a “very good” from Dr. Chris Huffman, her optometrist at Everett and Hurite Eyecare Specialists.
Davis started using Vuity eye drops a month ago and says they are making a big difference for him.
“Just like when you put your readers on the counter, it brings things closer together and I don’t have to stretch my arms that wide,” Davis said.
How it works
The eye drops hit the market a few months ago with a TV ad, catching the attention of a lot of people who depend on readers every day.
Warrendale Optometrist Dr Chris Huffman says patients ask about them every day.
“It’s another tool in the battle to fight old age,” Huffman said.
Vuity is actually an old glaucoma drug, Pilocarpine, which was used to treat high pressure inside the eye. Now it is repurposed to help older eyes focus up close.
“What it does, basically, is it shrinks the pupil, kind of dilates it, makes it smaller. Doing that changes your field of focus,” he said. “Basically, it makes you more myopic.”
This is called the pinhole effect. By narrowing the pupil, it limits the criss-crossing light rays entering your eye, so only more direct light hits what you’re trying to read. This reduces blur and makes what you’re looking at more focused.
You can create the same effect with a simple trick. Make a fist with your hand and place it in front of your eye like a telescope. When you look through the little hole and try to read something, it seems clearer. This life hack can help in the blink of an eye to read a menu, maybe, but in most cases it’s not very convenient.
“You can’t walk around like this all day,” Huffman said, making a telescope with her hand and putting it to her eye.
Limits and side effects
There are limits with drops. At present, they are only recommended for people between the ages of 40 and 55.
“The younger you are, the weaker the correction you have, the more successful you are,” Huffman explained.
Jill Dugan, 51, has been using the Vuity for several months now and is pleased with the results.
“It made a huge difference. I would actually say it is life changing,” Dugan said. “I can see my watch. I can see the phone. I can see the iPad I use at work. It’s fantastic.”
One drop in each eye, once a day, is meant to last 6 to 10 hours, but there are possible side effects.
“I had some redness right after instilling it and a headache in my forehead, just on the other side,” Dugan said, gesturing to her eyebrows. “These two symptoms lasted about 15 minutes. Then it didn’t really happen again after I used the drops for about two weeks.
And Dr. Huffman says that in very rare cases it can cause retinal detachment.
“That’s why we always bring you in for an eye exam before we do anything, but it’s very rare,” he said.
Driving at night is also not recommended when using the drops, as the contraction of the pupil makes it more difficult to see in dim light.
Also, if you wear contacts, you must wait 10 minutes after putting in the drops before you can insert your lenses.
Cost and benefit
The drops are prescription only, so you must first have an eye exam. The cost is around $80 a bottle, which should last around a month with regular daily use. Also, since it is not medically necessary, it is not covered by insurance.
Dugan says her drops last longer because she doesn’t use them every day — just for work three days a week and on special occasions.
“If I’m going out to dinner or something, where I only need a few hours and don’t want to wear glasses, I use them for that,” she said. “It’s really worth it !”
Dr. Huffman says the drops aren’t for everyone, but so far people who use them seem to like them.
“It’s another tool in the toolbox to make people’s lives a little more convenient, more comfortable, less complicated,” he said.
©2022 Cox Media Group