Night vision disturbance, or dim light disturbance, is a vision impairment disease that has only recently entered clinical studies. Dim light disturbance occurs when a person’s pupil dilates in low light conditions and then even a small amount of light can cause halos or glares which impair one’s vision.
Mina Sooch, the CEO of Ocuphire, a biopharmaceutical company who has pioneered the study of dim light disturbance, said that the ailment affects tens-of-millions of Americans, and there is currently no treatment.
“No one has studied night vision disturbance in clinical trials,” Sooch said. “In a way, we have pioneered this as an unmet need. It’s something where hopefully we’re able to raise the awareness and then, through clinical trials, potentially have a treatment in a few years.”
The most obvious risk for people with dim light disturbance is driving, but the condition can also be a danger for people walking up and down stairs, walking in the street at night, and moving through concerts or dark theaters.
Ocuphire is preparing to enter Phrase 3 clinical trials of their dim light disturbance treatment, after having successfully completed Phases 1 and 2. “Our product, Nyxol, is an eyedrop that you can take before the evening or as needed,” Sooch said. “It’s an alpha one antagonist or an alpha one blocker that works on the iris dilator muscle and allows it to relax. It’s a very durable eye-drop. We found over all our studies that it lasts over 24 and up to 36 hours.”
There are several known causes of eye damage that increases dim light disturbance. As well as natural aging, people who get interocular lenses can develop dim light disturbance. It’s also known to affect people post-Lasik surgery. “Not everyone gets night vision disturbance post-Lasik, but 20 years ago I got Lasik and it was the one safety issue that they would tell you about,” said Sooch. “It’s less likely now than it was twenty years ago because the procedure is better, but it’s probably still around 20 percent of people either temporarily have dim light disturbance or have it for life.”
Sooch recognized that developing a treatment for dim light disturbance will not only improve patient experience but also doctors’ ability to provide treatment. “Those that have night vision disturbance recognize it in a heartbeat, and doctors don’t have a treatment today, so it’s hard talking about a problem if they can’t offer a solution,” Sooch said. “We’re looking forward to working with the industry as we develop and go through our Phase 3 program.”
“Being at the front and pioneering the awareness takes some patience,” Sooch said. “We will continue to build that awareness and we have more wind behind us than they had a decade ago, definitely two decades ago. Where there’s a recognition of this as an unmet need, we should be working on solutions.”
This article was paid for by Ocuphire.