Image of senior receiving eye exam

Drugmaker Allergan is seeking federal approval for a new eye drop that treats presbyopia, the common age-related vision loss that often prompts a need for reading glasses. 

If approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it will be the first eye drop to treat the condition, according to Allergan’s owner, AbbVie.

The drug, now known as AGN-190584, works by contracting the sphincter muscle of the iris, constricting the pupil and enhancing depth of focus. This contraction improves near and intermediate visual acuity “while maintaining some pupillary response to light,” AbbVie reported. 

In clinical trials involving 750 participants, the drug significantly improved near vision without a loss of distance vision, according to the company. No serious adverse events tied to the drug occurred, and non-serious adverse events were rare, typically involving headache and redness, the researchers reported.

Presbyopia is a progressive condition that affects almost 128 million U.S. adults aged more than 40 years. It reduces the eye’s ability to focus on near objects.