Will New Eye Drops Really Replace Readers?
New eye drops approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could replace the need to wear Reading Glasses making Reading Glasses obsolete.
Yes, just like rotary telephones, fax machines, and phone booths, Reading Glasses may soon be “a thing of the past”.
AbbVie’s Allergan announced on October 29, 2021, that VUITY, its unique treatment for presbyopia, is the very first and only eye drop to treat presbyopia,eliminating the need for Reading Glasses.
The generic name for VUITY is “Pilocarpine Hydrochloride”.
“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,” stated AbbVie Vice Chairman and President Michael Severino, M.D.
“The FDA approval of VUITY exemplifies our continued pursuit of innovative new treatments that push the boundaries of what’s possible in eye care.”
New Specialized Formula to Treat Presbyopia.
Dr. Severino asserted that VUITY used a specialized formula that combines pilocarpine, an established ocular therapeutic with Allergan’s technology and is effective as quickly as 15 minutes after application. During the Phase III GEMINI1 and GEMINI 2 clinical studies, patients self-administering VUITY once a day were found to have improved vision for up to six hours on day 30.
“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,” said Dr. George O. Waring IV, M.D., FACS, the principal study investigator and medical director of the Waring Vision Institute in South Carolina.
Additionally, patients exhibited no serious adverse effects in either study, with the most common side effects being headache and eye redness which occurred in less than 5% of study participants. It’s important to note that VUITY was not found to have negatively affected distance vision either during or after use
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) maintains that topical eye drops are “a promising nonsurgical treatment for presbyopia”.
How Do These Eye Drops Work?
VUITY is an eye drop solution that treats the symptoms of presbyopia by targeting the eyes’ lens.
When treating patients with age-related presbyopia, Miotic Eye Drops and Lens-Softening Eye Drops are two different types of eye drops with unique mechanisms under development to treat this condition. Miotic Eye Drops make the pupil contract, limiting out-of-focus information. Lens-Softening Eye Drops help restore the flexibility of the lens.
Miotic Drops change the size of the pupil by constriction, creating a “pinhole effect” that maximizes both near and far focus, like an original film camera, prior to the invention of the camera lens. AbbVie’s Allergan, LENZ Therapeutics , Orasis Pharmaceuticals, and Eyenovia are four companies developing miotic drops has recently completed Phase 2 trials and Orasis Pharmaceuticals has recently completed Phase 3 trials, the last phase before a drug can be approved by the FDA for use. Eyenovia, is developing a rival pilocarpine drop that is also in Phase 3 clinical trials. to treat presbyopia.
Lens Softening Eye Drops-work by softening and making the crystalline lens more flexible. This flexibility provides the crystalline lens with the ability to better focus on near objects. It’s important to note that Lens-Softening Eye Drops can significantly improve vision but cannot completely restore near vision. Initial data has shown that Lens-Softening Eye Drops can improve vision for longer periods of time than miotic drops.
Lens-Softening Eye Drops work best for people without cataracts who are in the beginning stages of presbyopia. That includes nearly half of people diagnosed with the condition. Novartis has developed the first Lens-Softening Eye Drops using lipoic acid. Novartis is scheduled to submit its data to the FDA in late 2021/early 2022.
Do Eye Drops Work Better Than Reading Glasses?
Research shows that Miotic Eye Drops start working 15-30 minutes after application and last four to seven hours. When the Miotic Eye Drops wear off, it is necessary to reapply the Miotic Eye Drops.
Even though Lens-Softening Eye Drops do not fully restore vision, Lens-Softening Eye Drops are long-lasting and continue working for several years.
SIDE EFFECTS: A small percentage of people using both eye drops experienced headaches, limited night vision, eye pain, red eyes, and blurry vision. Patients over the age of 65 with rigidity of their entire eye (lens, sclera, and ciliary muscles) have a much higher risk of developing problems with both kinds of eye drops. Patients ages 40-55 could benefit from these advancements.
Both Miotic and Lens-Softening Eye Drops require a prescription. Some patients prefer to use a combination of Miotic and Lens-Softening Eye Drops to optimize vision. Others may have eye drop preferences and this will be determined after a comprehensive eye examination by a certified eyecare provider.
How Expensive are Eye Drops?
At the current time, VUITY is not covered by health insurance. A VUITY spokesperson stated that a 30-day supply of the drug costs around $80 and works best in people ages 40 to 55 years old. Doctors surveyed felt that it was unlikely that health insurance would cover the cost for eyedrops since the eye drops are not “medically necessary”.
Will Prescription Eye Drops Make Reading Glasses Obsolete?
An “Eye Drops Only” solution is not for everyone. At the time of this post, prescription eye drops cost $960/year and, therefore, are much expensive than Reading Glasses. Also, it’s important to note that VUITY, the only eye drop solution approved by the FDA to treat presbyopia, only lasts for 7 hours and “works best in people ages 40-55 years old”.
And, finally, in some people using eye drops experience side effects. Reading Glasses have no side effects.
With more clinical trials underway, corrective eyedrops could be a viable option for people to replace Reading Glasses.