Can you replace your readers with eye drops?

By The Health News Team | June 3, 2022
Eye drops

Frustrated you can’t find reading glasses when there’s a menu to peruse? Frantic at the thought of sitting down at your computer without your readers? You’re not alone. Nearly 80% of adults ages 45 to 55 in the U.S. have presbyopia, an age-related difficulty seeing things close-up. Now a possible game changer is available: vision-correcting eye drops.

Available by prescription, Vuity™ eye drops are the first eye drops for the treatment of age-related, blurry near vision in adults to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Dr. Gayle Howard, a board-certified ophthalmologist with Sharp Community Medical Group, answers questions about the vision-correcting eye drops and shares her personal experience using them.

How do the eye drops work?
Aging is associated with a hardening of the eye’s natural lens, which limits its ability to change shape and focus close-up. This is called presbyopia and is different than nearsightedness or farsightedness, which refers to distance vision concerns.

The eye drops work by making the pupil smaller, allowing for a pinhole effect to sharpen near and intermediate vision in some people. They work best in people with good distance vision but can also be used while wearing glasses or contacts.

How do you use the eye drops?
The eye drops are meant to be used once per day. In studies, the best improvement in near vision was noted one hour after using the drops but they started to lose their effect in the next three to six hours. The eye drops are not recommended for pregnant patients, children, or people with eye inflammation or history of a high degree of nearsightedness.

Are there any side effects?
The most common side effects related to the use of Vuity eye drops are headache, eye redness and possible dimming of vision at night. There are rare risks of inflammation within the eye and retinal detachment. People with a history of high myopia, or nearsightedness, should use Vuity with caution, as they have a higher risk of retinal detachment.

When driving, there is likely no real change to vision during the daytime. However, at night, the dimness and slight reduction in peripheral vision would make driving more difficult. Thus, night driving and other hazardous activities in dim light is not recommended.

How do you get the eye drops?
Vuity eye drops are only available through prescription and are not usually covered by insurance. While there are some generic options available in other strengths, they are not recommended. Only the Vuity product was studied and approved by the FDA.

Additionally, some ophthalmologists will not prescribe Vuity, as they don’t find the benefits worth the risks, with less than 50% improvement in near vision seen in the studies. Others note that while the drops may not work for everyone, the results in some individuals are excellent.

Are eyedrops for other vision challenges on the horizon?
Vuity has opened the field for medical treatments for age-related, blurry near vision. Until now, treatments have been more surgical in nature, with higher risks of complications and more permanent effects. As presbyopia generally affects everyone at some point, there is a need for alternatives and a market for companies. So, they are likely trying to develop more options.

Dr. Howard’s personal experience with Vuity eye drops
Dr. Howard tried the eye drops and experienced both the benefits and a couple of side effects.

“I did note the improvement in my ability to read on my phone and on paper; however, I also noted some dimness as the evening came on,” she says.

Additionally, Dr. Howard reported her vision while walking did not seem different, though her vision while sitting and reading was improved. However, she noted blurriness around the edges while watching shows on a big-screen TV directly in front of her, “probably from a slight decrease in peripheral vision with the small pupil,” she explains.

Dr. Howard also experienced a headache that improved after approximately one to two hours. What’s more, it was obvious that her pupils were very small to others and to herself when looking in a mirror, she says.

“If the drop doesn’t work well for you, there are other options available,” Dr. Howard says. “Talk with your optometrist or ophthalmologist about your choices, including trifocal, multifocal or expanded depth of focus intraocular lenses, which are permanent vision-correction lenses implanted in the eye.”

Learn about eye and vision care at Sharp.

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