You may have heard the buzz recently about newly approved eye drops that can improve your near vision. Many people over the age of 40 notice that they need to increase the text size on their phones, hold text further away, or wear reading glasses. If that sounds familiar, you may be wondering if this can work for you. You’ve come to the right place – read on to learn the facts about these eye drops.
In late 2021, the FDA approved VUITY eye drops for once-daily usage to treat presbyopia, commonly known as age-related blurry near vision. VUITY is made by Allergen, an AbbVie company. VUITY is pilocarpine HCl ophthalmic solution 1.25%.
Should I try VUITY?
VUITY is an option for people with mild to moderately blurry near vision. For some people, it may give them temporary good near vision. It is approved only for once-a-day usage, and the benefits last for about 1-3 hours for around 30% of users. If it works for you, you will still need to own reading glasses, but VUITY may reduce the amount of time you need to wear them. Do not use VUITY if:
- You are younger than 40 or older than 55 years old
- You are at risk of retinal detachment
- You have a cataract forming
- You have a high prescription for near vision
- You plan to drive at night within several hours of using the eye drops
- You do not want to pay $80 per month out of pocket while still needing reading glasses
How does it work?
Pilocarpine has been used for decades to treat glaucoma; it works by constricting muscles in the eye, thus reducing the size of your pupil. This creates a “pinhole” effect, which increases your eye’s ability to focus at different distances. This is similar to the depth of field of a camera lens: lenses with smaller apertures (openings) can simultaneously produce sharper images of objects both near and further away.
How was it tested and approved?
VUITY was tested in clinical trials of participants who were 40 to 55 years old diagnosed with presbyopia. The FDA approved VUITY based on two phase 3 clinical studies called GEMINI 1 and GEMINI 2. There were a total of 750 participants in the two studies. The FDA approved VUITY based on the results of these studies, which showed some near and intermediate vision benefits without impacting distance vision (particularly for participants with mild to moderate presbyopia), with no adverse side effects.
How well does VUITY work?
The detailed clinical study results show improved near and intermediate vision for a proportion of the participants, with a benefit that peaks 1 hour after the use of the eye drops, then declines in the hours after that. Specifically, around 40% of participants had improved near vision 1 hour after using the drops, 30% had improvement after 3 hours, and 18% of participants had improved near vision 6 hours after use. Improved near vision was defined as being able to see 3 or more additional lines in mesopic DCNVA (distance-corrected near visual acuity) on an eye chart.
So the key takeaway from these results is that a portion of participants (less than half) showed solid improvement in near vision, but only for a short period of time after the once-daily application of eye drops.
What are the side effects, downsides, and costs?
No participants in the clinical study suffered any serious adverse effects. Some participants reported headaches and eye redness. Since VUITY decreases the size of your pupil, less light gets into your eyes. This means you should not use VUITY before driving at night or doing low-light work. Also, if you have a cataract, VUITY could further decrease your vision.
Additionally, since VUITY constricts your eye muscles, it can put stress on your retina. Because of this, people at risk of retinal detachment SHOULD NOT use VUITY. So, if you or your family has a history of retinal detachment, or if you have peripheral retinal lesions that could predispose you to a retinal detachment, this is not for you. Also, using these drops more than the approved once per day could increase your risk.
VUITY costs about $80 per month, and it is not typically covered by insurance.
Schedule an eye exam at Acuity Vision Optometry Boutique to maintain your eye health and discuss options that are right for you! Call 415-673-2020 or click here to make an appointment.
Yours in wellness and in health,
Dr. Lyndi Schmidt
Founder, Acuity Vision Optometry Boutique