Presbyopia, or age-related blurry near vision, is a common and progressive condition that reduces the eye’s ability to focus on near objects and affects approximately 128 million Americans, or nearly half of the American adult population, generally over the age of 40.
Presbyopia comes from the Greek word meaning “old eye”. In a non-presbyopic eye, the clear lens behind the iris (the colored part of the eye) is a dynamic structure that can change shape and focus light onto the retina, allowing things to be seen up close. In an eye that suffers from presbyopia, the clear lens hardens and cannot change shape as easily, making it difficult to focus on nearby objects. With early presbyopia, brighter light can help to see things up close while holding reading material at arm’s length. As presbyopia progresses, the only treatment options available until recently included reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals, progressive lenses in eyeglasses, monovision or multifocal contact lenses.
In October 2021, the FDA approved VUITY 1.25% (pilocarpine HCl ophthalmic solution), the first and only eye drops to treat presbyopia. Prescription once-daily eye drops improve near and intermediate vision without affecting distance for adults with age-related blurred near vision. The approval came after phase three clinical studies of the eye drops showed they worked in as little as 15 minutes and lasted up to six hours. VUITY’s proprietary pHast technology formulation allows it to adjust the physiological pH of the tear film in your eyes, helping to reduce pupil size, improving near and intermediate vision while maintaining distance vision.
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The recommended dose of VUITY is one drop per day in each eye. Nevertheless, there are additional precautions to take if you are using other topical eye medications or contact lenses (it is advisable to wait five minutes between topical eye treatments and 10 minutes before putting on contacts) . There were no serious adverse events in clinical trials among study participants, although mild side effects such as headache and eye flushing were rarely reported.
Although VUITY offers a new option for patients with mild to moderate presbyopia, it is not intended to completely replace your reading glasses. You should definitely talk to your eye doctor if near vision is blurry and you think you’re a good candidate for VUITY, but keep your reading glasses handy in case you need them in addition to eye drops. Additionally, you should exercise caution when driving at night or performing hazardous activities in poor lighting. Also, do not drive or use machinery if vision is unclear.
If you’re interested in trying VUITY, your first step should be to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to see if it’s right for you. Presbyopia is diagnosed by a simple eye exam, which will include a refractive assessment to measure how well you see objects at certain distances. If your doctor thinks VUITY might help you, they may write you a prescription for the medicine. Please note that insurance does not cover this treatment.
If you find wearing bifocals, trifocals or carrying reading glasses a nuisance, now there is an alternative option for you!
Nikhil Wagle, MD, with Eye Surgeons Associates, is Board Certified with a Glaucoma Fellowship. He sees patients in our Rock Island and Bettendorf offices. For more information, visit www.esaeyecare.com.
The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
Dr. Carlton Fenzl, with Eye Surgeons Associates, is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and has received subspecialty designations in corneal disease and surgery. He practices at the Rock Island and Geneseo Clinics in ESA, IL and at the Bettendorf Clinic, IA. For more information, visit Eye Surgeons Associates online at www.esaeyecare.com.
The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.