Your Grandma’s favorite eyeglasses may soon find their way to the trashcan. Last Friday, October 29th, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for use the first-of-its-kind daily eyedrops to treat presbyopia, an eye condition that makes seeing close objects difficult.
Presbyopia, from the Greek for “old eye,” is a common age-related loss of the eyes’ ability to focus on close objects and is caused when the lens of the eye becomes less flexible. In normal eyesight, the lens can change shape to help focus light onto the retina and this enables us to see things both up close and far away. But because the lens is more rigid in Presbyopia, the lens is unable to efficiently focus light on the retina leading to poor visual acuity with close objects. As such, as we age, many individuals rely on “reading” glasses to see nearby objects such as words in a book. Presbyopia affects close to 128 million Americans and begins to progress starting at the age of 40. The recent FDA approval of Vuity (pilocarpine HCl ophthalmic solution) is an exciting announcement for individuals who suffer from presbyopia.
Vuity is the first and only FDA-approved eye drop to treat presbyopia and requires a once-daily eye drop to help with visual acuity. Vuity works by constricting the pupil of the eyes to enhance the depth of focus, while still maintaining pupillary response to various lighting conditions. Importantly, the drops work quickly (within 15 minutes) and last throughout the day. Dr. George Waring, Director of the Waring Vision Institute in South Carolina, stated that, “I am particularly encouraged by the rapid onset of action and duration of efficacy for Vuity to improve near and intermediate vision without impacting distance vision with one drop daily, particularly for those with mild to moderate presbyopia.”
The approval of Vuity by the FDA is based on recent clinical studies that evaluated the safety and efficacy of the eyedrops in patients with presbyopia. In the clinical trials, individuals with presbyopia were treated with Vuity once daily for 30 days and then given a visual assessment. When the patients treated with Vuity were compared to individuals who received placebo eyedrops, the data showed that Vuity led to statistically significant improvements in near-vision reading with very few adverse side effects. AbbVie, the pharmaceutical company that designed and manufacturers Vuity, is hoping to improve the lives of millions of individuals with this new eye drop. Michael Servino, vice chairman and president of AbbVie, said, “We are proud to offer Vuity as a first-of-its-kind once-daily eye drop that we believe will change the way people and their eye doctors approach presbyopia.”