By: Jeffry Gerson, OD
With direct-to-consumer marketing of medical products becoming so common, it is often hard to know if something you see a commercial for might be right for you. For example, who wouldn’t want an eyedrop that they could use to improve their vision? This may be your interpretation of the commercials now on television for Vuity (from AbbVie). Believe it or not, there are literally tens of millions of Americans that have never had an eye exam and are wearing over the counter reading glasses to help their reading vision (and since they haven’t had an eye exam, they wouldn’t know if they have macular degeneration or some other eye disease).
Vuity (1.25% pilocarpine) is a relatively newly FDA approved drop for the treatment of presbyopia in adults. Presbyopia is the condition that we are all bound to face at some point when we get old enough to where our eyes just don’t focus as well up close as they used to or we need them to. This is what causes us to need bifocals. The drop is approved to be used daily in both eyes.
In the clinical trial, which was done on people 40-55 years old, the vast majority (approximately 90%) could read regular-sized print in normal/good lighting conditions. The most common side effect was headache, but it was mild in most people and very few people discontinued the drop due to headaches.
Patients ask me all the time “Will this work for me?”. The answer is similar to that of many other treatments in that it depends on expectations and qualifications. What I mean by that is that if you expect your eyes to suddenly work as well as they did when you were 30, then your expectations are not in line with the potential benefits of this drop. What I mean by qualifications is that if you have decreased vision due to AMD, this will not help you overcome the AMD-related visual abnormalities. If you are in your 80’s, it is unlikely that this will be tremendously beneficial for you. The older you are, the less likely it is that Vuity will be of much benefit to you. That being said, there is very little downside.
Since this is not covered by insurance, there will be out-of-pocket costs. A bottle should cost approximately $80 and last a month if used daily. Also important, even though this is a very safe medication, it is important to have had a recent dilated comprehensive eye exam before getting a prescription for this drop to make sure you don’t have any contraindications to its use. Having macular degeneration is not a reason for this to not work, but people with macular degeneration are likely older than the intended audience for this medication.