pres2Presbyopia is the natural loss of the eye’s ability to focus on near objects, and onset usually occurs in the early to mid-forties. This change forces patients into reading glasses or bifocals. In our younger years, the human lens is quite elastic and easily able to change shape – it flattens out to allow distance focus, and “fattens up” to allow near-object focus. As we age, the lens slowly begins to lose its elasticity due to disulfide bonds forming between the crystalline proteins within the lens. Once this is significant, the lens becomes more rigid, and we lose our ability to see objects up close.

There is very exciting news out of Fort Worth, TX today. Encore Vision, Inc. has announced that “the primary efficacy and safety endpoints have been met in its Phase I-II proof of concept study of EV06 ophthalmic solution 1.5%.” EV06 could possibly be optometry’s “holy grail” – the first topical medical treatment directed at softening the gradual stiffening of the human lens. President and CEO Bill Burns said “EV06 demonstrated a safety profile nearly identical to placebo and a significant ability to improve near vision function as early as 2 weeks (of therapy).” The study showed near vision improvement beginning at 15 days and continued throughout the 90-day study period.

EV06 (Lipoic Acid Choline Ester, 1.5%) acts to break the disulfide bonds that destroy the lens’ elastic property. It is a prodrug, meaning it is broken down into other chemical components after penetrating the cornea. In this case, naturally-occurring lipoic acid and choline.

While further study is required, this news could mean that soon we may have an eye drop to basically cure presbyopia, instead of just “crutching” the problem with readers or bifocals!