Vuity™, a new eye drop for the treatment of presbyopia (age-related blurry near vision in adults), has been approved by the FDA. The eye drops can reestablish close vision within 15 minutes of application and work for up to 6 hours without compromising distance vision.
What Causes Presbyopia?
Presbyopia is the gradual loss of the eyes’ ability to focus on nearby objects. The condition is a part of the aging process and is caused by the hardening of the lens of the eye. The hardening means that the lens is less flexible and less able to change shape to focus on close-up objects. The term presbyopia is Greek and combines the Greek words presbus (old man) with ops (eye) to mean old man eyes.
How Was Vuity™ Developed?
The story of how these eyedrops were developed goes back to a side effect of pilocarpine when used as a glaucoma eyedrop. Patients using the eyedrop experienced the side effect of constriction of their pupils and increased ciliary body tone.
The ciliary body is located behind the iris and is a ring-shaped muscle that changes the shape of the lens when the eye focuses. The ciliary body also produces the clear fluid that fills the space between the cornea and the iris.
When the tone of the ciliary body is increased and the pupils constricted, near vision is clearer. The new FDA-approved eye drops for presbyopia are a low-dose of pilocarpine (1.25%) with a proprietary pH technology that causes the eyedrops to rapidly adjust to the pH of tear film. An eyedrop that causes pupil constriction is called a miotic.
Another type of eye drop is also being studied as a treatment for presbyopia is a lens softening drop. These types of eye drops soften the eye’s lens so it is more flexible and better able to focus close up.
Several companies are developing variations of eye drops for presbyopia. The only one currently approved by the FDA is Vuity™ made by Allergan. That eye drop is a miotic and works by constricting the pupil and increasing ciliary body tone. The effect results in creating a “pinhole effect” allowing clearer vision of near objects.
The clinical trials for Vuity™ showed that it was effective in improving presbyopia with results as soon as 15 minutes after instilling the eye drops and the improvement lasted up to 6 hours. There were also very few side effects. The most common side effects were headache and red eyes.
Six other companies are working on presbyopia eye drops. Novartis is in Phase 2 clinical trials for a lens softening eye drop that uses alpha-lipoic acid—an organic compound that acts as a powerful antioxidant and is used as the agent for softening the eye’s lenses. Initial data show that these lens softening eye drops improve vision for longer periods of time than miotic eye drops.
Will the Eyedrops Cure Presbyopia?
Eye drops for the treatment of presbyopia will not cure or reverse presbyopia or slow it down or help with other age-related eye problems such as cataracts, but they can be a way to free yourself from glasses or contacts temporarily.