Eye Drops for Close Vision Hit the Market

Most adults over the age of 50 require at least reading glasses, even if they have had laser eye surgery at an earlier time.  Often older adults require progressive lenses or dedicated computer, distance or close vision glasses – all of which can be expensive and hard to keep organized.  But now, a new eye drop approved in October by the F.D.A. has hit the market as a daily treatment to help users improve their close-range vision. 

According to a recent New York Times report, Vuity is a once-a-day eye drop that provides an alternative to reading glasses that won’t affect long-range vision.  The drops are available by prescription.  Vuity improves near vision that typically worsens over the age of 45 by constricting the size of the pupil.  Reducing the peripheral light that passes through the eye helps older eyes focus on close objects.  

Presbyopia, or difficulty with close-range vision, affects nearly 90 percent of American adults over 45.  As people age, the eyes become less flexible, making it more difficult for the lens to change shape and reducing the eye’s ability to zoom in on a close object.  Roughly 128 million Americans suffer from age-related presbyopia and usually, they are advised to wear prescription or over-the-counter reading glasses for near vision. 

Vuity is the first drop on the market to improve close vision but the active ingredient, pilocarpine, has been used for decades to treat glaucoma. Unlike reading glasses, which affect distance vision when worn, the drops don’t have the same effect under normal daylight conditions.  The drops are most successful for people with mild to moderate close vision problems – typically between the ages of 45 and 55. 

The eye drops do not correct regular nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.  Vuity only improves age-related problems with close vision and other eye conditions may require the wearing of glasses or contact lenses in conjunction with the drops.  People with presbyopia should probably have a backup pair of reading glasses to use when the drops wear off after about 6 hours.  Intermediate vision, often used when working on the computer, was found to be improved by the drops for about 10 hours. Several similar eye drops are in clinical trials to treat near vision problems and may be available to the public in the future.  

The cost?  Vuity is not usually covered by health or vision insurance and may cost about $80 for a month’s supply.   

Side Effects?  No serious side effects were reported in clinical trials but 14.9 percent of participants reported mild headaches compared with 7 percent who took a placebo.  A small number, up to 5 percent of subjects, reported other side effects including eye redness, blurred vision, eye pain, visual impairment, irritation, and greater tear production.   The drops are not advised for people who drive at night or need to see well in low light because they reduce pupil size.