Tired of misplacing your reading glasses all the time? There might be a solution for you in a tiny bottle: eye drops for reading.

These drops can improve your close-up vision in a matter of minutes. Just apply a drop to each eye, et voilà!

But, as with almost anything under the sun, there are pros and cons of using these drops. In this post, we will weigh them carefully to help you figure out if eye drops for reading are for you.

Let’s start!

Why Do People Need Reading Glasses with Age?

The need for reading glasses as you age is mainly due to presbyopia. This is an age-related condition that affects your ability to focus on nearby objects. It can make it difficult for you to read a book or work on a computer.

Presbyopia is so common that about 1.8 billion people worldwide are affected by it. It typically becomes noticeable around the age of 40 and gradually worsens over time.

But how exactly does it affect your vision?

Your eye lens does more than just focus light onto your retina. It changes shape to help you focus on near and distant objects. When you look at far-off objects, your lens is relaxed. But when you look at close-up objects, your lens becomes thicker and more curved.

man with glasses reading a red folder in a green couch against a brick background 

In the case of presbyopia, your lens stiffens over time. That means it becomes less flexible and loses its ability to change shape. As a result, you will find it difficult to focus on close-up objects. Hence the need for reading glasses.

While reading glasses can improve your close-up vision, they also affect your distance vision. That’s why you need to put them on and take them off often.

How Do Eye Drops for Reading Work?

If you’re one of those people who stash their reading glasses in drawers and handbags and are never able to find them when you need them, there’s now a solution for you in a bottle.

Recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration, FDA, approved eye drops for reading up close. Sold as Vuity (pilocarpine hydrochloride ophthalmic solution), these eye drops are easy to use.

All you need to do is apply one drop to each eye. In 15 minutes, the drops start working and you can enjoy 6 hours of clear close-up vision.

The drops shrink the size of your pupils. This blocks extraneous light from far-off objects, bringing the close ones into sharper focus.

But they don’t change the shape of your lenses or make them more flexible. Rather, they mimic the natural function of your pupils when you focus on an object up close. So, the new eye drops to replace reading glasses don’t magically fix presbyopia.

Eye Drops for Reading Clinical Test

Drops for reading use pilocarpine as an active ingredient. Pilocarpine triggers your eye muscles to shrink. These muscles tug on your pupils and help contract them.

Two clinical trials were conducted with 750 participants between ages 40 to 55. These participants suffered from mild to moderate presbyopia.

Half of the participants were administered one drop of Vuity daily in each eye. The other half got placebo eye drops.

During the test, Vuity improved the close-up vision of the participants. In 15 minutes, it began to improve near vision, with effects lasting for over 6 hours.

What’s more Vuity, helped 30% of participants to read three added rows of text on an optometrist’s vision chart. A large percentage also achieved 20/40 near vision or better.

There were no serious adverse effects noted in either of the clinical trials. But mild headaches and eye redness were two common side effects.

Who Can Use Eye Drops for Reading?

For the most part, anyone with presbyopia can use eye drops for reading. They are approved for people above 40 years. But they work best on younger adults with a good distance vision. They are less effective for individuals over 65 years.

These drops can be used alongside glasses or contact lenses. If you wear contacts, apply the drops 10 minutes before you insert your contacts.

That said, these drops are not recommended if you have retinal detachment or cataracts. Plus, they don’t work well in low-light situations. Applying them at night while driving can be risky.closeup of seated pregnant woman in pink skirt touching her belly with both hands

In addition, they are not recommended for pregnant women or children and people with eye inflammation or a high degree of short-sightedness.

Eye drops for reading are only available through prescription. Plus, they are not covered by insurance. If you’re curious, the eye drops for reading cost for a 30-day prescription is about $79.

While using them, make sure to follow the instructions. Apply only the recommended dosage, as overdosage can come with certain side effects.

Can Eye Drops Replace Reading Glasses?

Prescription eye drops for reading are by no means a cure-all. They are an effective alternative to reading glasses, but they cannot replace them.

For starters, see up close eye drops are effective for only up to 6 hours. You can use the eye drops again the following day, but overdosage isn’t recommended.

For some people, reading eye drops may not entirely correct near vision. They can only lower dependence on reading glasses.

What’s more, eye drop for seeing up close don’t correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or even astigmatism. They only help improve age-related close-range vision. If you have other eye issues, you may still need your eyeglasses, such as to read a far-off signpost or instruction.

In short, you cannot depend entirely on eye drops instead of reading glasses. If you use eye drops, you will still need a pair of reading glasses. The drops will only help cut the number of hours you wear the glasses for.

Eye Drops for Reading Side Effects

Eye drops used for reading are generally safe and well-tolerated. But in certain instances, you may experience mild side effects such as:

  • Mild headaches
  • Eye irritation and redness
  • Eye strain and pain
  • Tunnel vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Allergic reactions
  • Poor vision at night
  • Temporary issues when changing focus
  • Increased tear production
  • Temporary dark or dim vision

Keep in mind not to exceed the recommended dosage. In rare cases, doing so might increase your risk of inflammation and retinal detachments.

Other Options to Improve Near Vision

Reading glasses and new eye drops for reading aren’t the only solutions to correct your close-range vision. You can consider other alternatives, such as:

portrait of senior wearing reading glasses against blurry forest background

  • Bifocal or progressive lens eyeglasses These eyeglasses are split into two sections. The primary section corrects distance vision while the smaller, secondary section corrects near vision.
  • Multifocal contact lenses – These have different rings on the lens that provide multiple focal points.
  • Monovision contact lenses – In these, one eye is corrected for distance vision while the other is corrected for near vision. This intentional imbalance allows each eye to independently focus at different distances, reducing the need for reading glasses.
  • Monovision LASIK Similar to monovision contacts, this surgical procedure corrects one eye for distance vision and the other for near vision.
  • Multifocal LASIK – This procedure reshapes your cornea and creates multiple focus zones for near and distance vision.
  • Lens implants Also known as corneal inlay, these implantable lenses help extend your range of vision from near to far.

It’s important to remember that providing your eyes with the nutrients they need helps preserve vision in the long term. Eye drops for reading don’t address the underlying causes of vision problems, to which nutritional deficiencies can contribute.

That’s where an eye health supplement can help. SightC is a full-spectrum vision health supplement packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

Made from superfoods like goji berries, turmeric, and dwarf lilyturf, it’s a natural, gluten-free, diabetes-friendly supplement that supports eye health in the digital age. Packed into vegetal capsules, SightC is easy to take at home, at work, or on the go—even if you’re vegetarian.

Keep your eyes healthy with SightC.

The Wrap Up

With age, your eye lens starts to lose its elasticity. This is when you have trouble focusing on things close-up. The first solution? Getting a pair of reading glasses.

But there is also a second solution: using eye drops for reading.

While the drops don’t eliminate the need for reading glasses, they effectively improve your near vision for about 6 hours.

So, whether you tend to misplace your reading glasses or are averse to using them all day, you may want to try eye drops. But remember that they don’t address the underlying causes of presbyopia.

Eating healthy foods for your eyes, exercising, managing stress, and sleeping well can help you preserve your vision in the long run.

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