There’s a new way to enhance close-up vision. Ditch the glasses and pick up a bottle. Just one drop a day in each eye does the trick. It’s an old medication used in a new way.
When the clock ticks to a certain age, reading a menu in a restaurant can sour your mood. For golfers it doesn’t seem like a problem as they set their sights on the distance. That is until it’s time to check that scorecard.
Dr. James Katz is an ophthalmologist.
“The lens of our eye, which is a clear structure, loses its elasticity,” he said. “So our ability to focus at different lengths of sight.
Reading a book becomes burdensome. The only way to scan a text is to seriously increase font size.
“Our eye adjusts close or distance depending what we need to see,” Katz said. “We lose that ability with age.”
Lasik surgery can improve distance vision, but until now only prescription or good old pharmacy generic readers could help with the daily task of reading the fine print.
“In the United States alone, over 30 million people wear over-the-counter reading glasses,” Katz said. “Reading glasses are basically magnification so they make the image larger up close.”
Now there is an FDA-approved option in the form of eye drops.
“The drops work by affecting the pupil size,” Katz said. “When they make the pupil size smaller, they increase the depth of focus, so the focus at near as well as intermediary improves greatly.”
The medication is by prescription only. First the doctor examines the eyes to make sure they are healthy and to determine the level of sight deficit. Then a discussion follows about whether patients are game for a new option, a medication that is not new to eye doctors.
“The drug was used in the past for glaucoma treatment,” Katz said. “It’s called pilocarpine and it’s 1.25%. It’s a medication that’s been used for years and years.”
WGN Medical Reporter Dina Bair tried the drops for herself.
After a half hour wait, the pupil was measurably smaller, similar to when the eyes respond to a bright light. The pinpoint pupil helps focus the vision.
Bair was able to read “the impossible line” on an eye exam. The drops made her eyes a little bloodshot which is a potential side effect.
The drops only work to a certain level of close-up sight loss, so some people don’t qualify. And they are not covered by insurance. The average price is about $80 a bottle.