New eye drops promise to help you ditch the readers

PITTSBURGH — If you have readers everywhere and still can’t find a pair when you need them, the idea of a simple eyedrop to help you ditch the readers is very appealing, but do they really work?

Channel 11 Consumer Investigator Angie Moreschi focuses in on the new Vuity Eye Drops to see how well they work to battle aging eyes.

Seeing young again

49-year-old Donald Davis sat in the patient chair at his Optometrist’s office in Warrendale and effortlessly read the small print on the eye chart card.

“4-2-8-3-6-5,” Davis said, easily reading numbers on the card and getting a “very good” from Dr. Chris Huffman, his optometrist with Everett and Hurite Eyecare Specialists.

Davis started using Vuity eyedrops a month ago and says they make a big difference for him.

“Just like when you put your over-the-counter readers on, it brings things closer, and I don’t have to stretch my arms out as wide,” Davis said.

How it works

The eye drops hit the market a few months ago with a TV commercial, catching the eye of a lot of folks who depend on readers every day.

Warrendale optometrist Dr. Chris Huffman says he has patients ask about them every day.

“It’s another tool in the battle to fight old age,” Huffman said.

Vuity is actually an old glaucoma drug, Pilocarpine, which was used to treat high pressure inside the eye. Now, it’s being repurposed to help older eyes focus up close.

“What it does, basically, is it shrinks the pupil, kind of un-dilates it, makes it smaller. By doing that, it changes your range of focus,” he said. “Basically, causing you to become more nearsighted.”

It’s called the pinhole effect. By making the pupil smaller, it limits the crisscrossing light rays entering your eye, so only more direct light hits what you’re trying to read. That reduces the blurriness and makes what you’re looking at more focused.

You can create the same effect with a simple trick. Make a fist with your hand and put it up to your eye like a telescope. When you look through the tiny hole and try to read something, it appears clearer. That life hack can help in a pinch to read a menu, perhaps, but in most cases isn’t very practical.

“You can’t walk around like this all day,” Huffman said, making a telescope with his hand and putting it up to his eye.

Limitations & side effects

There are limitations with the drops. Right now, they are only recommended for those 40 to 55 years old.

“The younger you are, the lower the correction you have, the better success you have,” Huffman explained.

51-year-old Jill Dugan has been using the Vuity for several months now and is pleased with the results.

“It has made a huge difference. I would actually say that it’s life changing,” Dugan said. “I can see my watch. I can see the phone. I can see the iPad that I use at work. It’s fantastic.”

One drop in each eye, once a day, is supposed to last 6 to 10 hours, but there are possible side effects.

“I had redness right upon instilling it and a brow headache, right across here,” Dugan said, motioning across her brows. “Both of those symptoms lasted about 15 minutes. Then, it didn’t really happen again after I had been using the drops for about two weeks.”

And Dr. Huffman says, in very rare cases, it can cause retinal detachment.

“That’s why we always have you come in and have an eye exam before we’d do any of this stuff, but it’s a very rare occurrence,” he said.

Driving at night is also not recommended when using the drops, because constricting the pupil makes it harder to see in dim light.

Also, if you wear contacts, you have to wait 10 minutes after putting drops in, before you can insert your lenses.

Cost & benefit

The drops are by prescription only, so you have to get an eye exam first. The cost is about 80-dollars a bottle, which should last about a month with regular daily use. Also, because it is not medically necessary, it is not covered by insurance.

Dugan says her drops last longer because she doesn’t use them every day — just for work three days a week and special occasions.

“If I’m going out to dinner or something like that, where I only need a couple of hours and don’t want to wear glasses, I have been using them for that,” she said. “It is absolutely worth it!”

Dr. Huffman says the drops aren’t right for everyone, but so far, people using them do seem to like them.

“It’s another tool in the toolbox to make people’s lives a little more convenient, more comfortable, less of a hassle,” he said.