Presbyopia is a fancy word that translates to ” I’m getting old and I can’t see up close anymore and I need longer arms or I have to break down and buy reading glasses”. But wait… a long awaited solution appears to be on the near horizon (finally).
“Fixing” presbyopia has been talked about for a long time. The reason WE (yes, me included) can not focus up close anymore is because the lens inside our eyes loses it ability to change shape the older we get. There is more to the story but let’s keep it simple. As of now, our only options to correct this are glasses, contact lenses, and premium lenses implanted during cataract surgery.
But some exciting new options may be coming our way soon. There are several drops currently in phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials which use a low dosage of pilocarpine. Pilocarpine has long been used to treat glaucoma by lowering eye pressure, and one of its side effects is that is causes the pupil to constrict (get smaller). But researchers have found that this has a benefit to our vision, as a small pupil increases depth of focus by reducing peripheral light entering the eye. The next time you’re in my office, I can demonstrate this cool trick to you- its called the pinhole effect. Several studies thus far have encouraging results:
- a rapid onset (15 minutes)
- moderate duration of effect (6 hours)
- moderate improvement of near vision (3 lines on a near eye chart)
- no degradation of distance vision
- minimal side effects (mild headache in some)
2 other medications are also being studied, one of them using brimonidine and the other using acelidine. These medications also cause the pupillary constriction, which increases depth of focus similar to pilocarpine. According to a recent article, one of the above drops may have FDA approval by the end of this year!
COVID and Contact Lenses
I just read an article about how effective contact lens solutions are at killing the COVID-19 virus.
For those of you who wear contacts, you may know that there are two types of solutions: “multipurpose” solutions and hydrogen peroxide solutions. The overwhelming majority of wearers choose multipurpose solutions because they are easier to use. The results of the study show that the peroxide solutions are significantly more effective against the coronavirus. However, the multipurpose solutions can be equally effective IF used properly, which means rubbing the lens, rinsing it, and placing it in the case for overnight disinfection (most people skip one or two of these steps).