Newly-approved eyedrops could replace reading glasses for millions of middle-aged people

Posted at 12:47 PM, Dec 09, 2021

A new drug that hit the market Thursday has the potential to offer middle-aged people freedom from reading glasses.

The drug, pilocarpine, is being sold under the brand name Vuity by drugmaker Allergan. It's the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat presbyopia, an age-related disorder that makes it difficult to see small nearby objects.

In the past, those suffering from presbyopia had one treatment option — reading glasses. However, the FDA's approval of Vuity on Oct. 29 opened the door for the once-daily eye drops as a treatment option.

According to Phase 3 clinical studies, a "statistically significant proportion of participants" with presbyopia using Vuity saw increased ability to read smaller print. Side effects of the drug include headaches and red eyes, though no trial participants reported any serious adverse effects.

The drug has the potential to impact the lives of millions of people worldwide. According to GoodRX, 85% of people 40 years or older currently suffer from presbyopia. Furthermore, ophthalmologist Dr. Cathleen McCabe recently told the Ophthalmology Times that surveys show that 90% of those suffering from presbyopia report frustrations with the disease.

Vuity users have reported they're less likely to need reading glasses, particularly in office settings and when using a computer.

However, the drug is far from a cure-all. CBS News reports that the drug is less effective in low-light situations, and the eyedrops are less effective for those aged 65 and older.

A spokesperson for Vuity told CBS News that a 30-day supply of the drug with a prescription costs about $80. For now, it's unlikely that the drug will be covered by insurance because glasses are still a cheaper option. The company says the drug works best in people aged between 40 and 55.