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Calling time on myopia

A UK trial of 0.01% atropine to limit myopic progression in children could be an important step in addressing the increasing prevalence of short-sightedness internationally

16 May 2019 by Selina Powell

The increasing prevalence of myopia globally has been labelled by some as an “epidemic.”

Luckily, scientists are working on several innovative developments that have the potential to turn back this tide of short-sightedness.

MiSight, orthokeratology and even spectacles to slow myopic progression have the potential to bring the horizons of a generation of children into focus.

An exciting trial taking place on UK shores aims to recruit 289 children between the ages of six and 12 to test the effectiveness and safety of 0.01% atropine in managing myopia.

OT has spoken with Queen’s University Belfast professor Augusto Azuara-Blanco for the latest information on the study, which is funded by the National Institute of Health Research.  

Professor Azuara-Blanco said that atropine eye drops may be something that could potentially be prescribed for myopia in the future.

If this happens, he believes that atropine should be offered within the community rather than in secondary care.

“I think optometrists are in the best position to handle myopia interventions. I don’t think this needs to be managed by ophthalmologists if low dose atropine works well and is safe, as we expect,” Professor Azuara-Blanco shared.

The OT team will of course keep our readers up to date as the trial progresses. As always, we are on the lookout for new technology and scientific solutions: please get in touch if you have a story that might be of interest. 

Image credit: Getty/Dimitris66

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Comments (3)

  • Avatar image of person name

    Geraint

    Ethical approval low dose atropine

    How did these researchers get ethical approval?

    The known effect of atropine is long lasting paralysis of accommodation
    Even low doses of this toxin are likely to reduce accommodation and increase accommodative effort. Presumably that is the point of the exercise

    The theory is that accommodative effort causes myopia
    Why can’t this be tested with ordinary spectacles and a reading addition (except that it has already been tested and the results are equivocal)?

    The effect on the subjects’ education hasn't been considered.
    A significant number of these children will have accommodation difficulties. A two-year period of additionally reduced accommodation could have a lasting effect on their academic future. Induced accommodative effort could de-stabilise their binocular balance at near. No account is taken of the effect on accommodation controlled convergence insufficiency.

    There are no good side effects associated with atropine sulphate; these have been reported even with low doses (Amitai et al. JAMA 1990)
    What are the cumulative effects of low dose atropine and preservatives (included also in the placebo drops)? What is the risk of anaphylaxis?

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    David Bennett

    ..and there was me reading the papers telling me that 0.01% Atropine (off label anyway so we cant prescribe it) was not effective in Myopia control... #backtothedrawingboard?

    Report 12

  • Avatar image of person name

    DHarle

    Will the AOP campaign so that IP Optometrists can prescribe this? It’s an off label issue I think

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