Q: I’ve seen ads and read some stories about a new eye drop to improve your reading vision. I hate needing readers or bifocals, how good are these new drops?
A: You’re right, we have patients asking about this new product almost every day. While the advertisements are very good, our experience has been less dramatic.
This new eye drop medication is available only by prescription, but is in reality a very old drug re-purposed with a new commercial name. Vuity is the brand name you are seeing in the ads. The actual drug is called pilocarpine, a common eye medicine used 50 years ago to treat glaucoma. Pilocarpine was useful back then because is lowered eye pressure by constricting the pupil. This constriction accomplished two things: fluid within the eye could drain out better, resulting in lower eye pressure, and….your pupil got much smaller.
Today’s medication is a much lower concentration than we used in the 1970’s, but still retains some of those original effects. The explanation of the optics are a bit complicated, but essentially the smaller your pupil becomes, the better your “depth of field”. This means you can see better up close. This is the main advantage of Vuity.
In the patients where we have prescribed Vuity so far, most found the improved near vision to be a help….but not as good as their glasses. And the benefits only last about 6 hours, meaning you would theoretically need to instill another drop after lunch to finish your day. The smaller pupils that patients still get today can be an issue. Smaller pupils allow less light into your eyes…..making the world darker. This can be a concern for people after dusk, and could be a hazard for driving at night. Many people over 50 already have the beginnings of cataracts, that also decrease the light getting inside your eyes. Compounding that issue with an eye drop can be a frustration.
There are a few other very uncommon medical eye problems reported, but most of our patients ( and those of my colleagues ) simply found their glasses or contacts gave much better close vision. So the bottom line is that yes, we are prescribing Vuity, but most eye doctors still recommend progressive ( “ invisible bifocals” ) lenses or we prescribe the new multifocal soft contacts. Talk with your eye doctor about your options. You may be a great candidate for Vuity, but there is only one way to find out……try it, if your eye doctor believes you are a safe candidate.