All about atropine

A UK trial is investigating the effectiveness of 0.01% atropine for the management of myopia. OT  speaks to Queen’s University Belfast professor, Augusto Azuara-Blanco, and Aston University lecturer, Dr Nicola Logan, about the study

Nicola Logan

Imagine a future where instead of putting in a pair of soft contact lenses or wearing ortho-k lenses at night a child could instil a single eye drop in each eye in order to limit the progression of myopia.

That day may be moving a step closer, through a UK study that explores the effectiveness of 0.01% atropine in managing myopia.

The CHAMP-UK study will recruit 289 children between the ages of six and 12 across five UK sites.

Participants will be randomly assigned either 0.01% atropine or a placebo eye drop and asked to instil one drop each day for two years.

Queen’s University Belfast professor, Augusto Azuara-Blanco, told OT that more than 70 participants have joined the study since recruitment began in Belfast in June last year.

Glasgow Caledonian University has five participants after beginning recruitment in February this year, while Moorfields Eye Hospital and Anglia Ruskin University have also begun to recruit participants. Aston University recruitment will begin later this year.

Professor Azuara-Blanco shared his view that within two to three years, researchers will be able to establish if atropine is effective for the control of myopia in UK and European populations.

As well as the UK trial, atropine studies are being carried out in Dublin and Western Australia.

If these studies support the use of atropine for myopia management, Professor Azuara-Blanco estimated that the treatment could be implemented in practice within five years.

“If it is effective it is very likely it will be made widely available,” he said.

Professor Azuara-Blanco shared that low dose atropine seems to be well-tolerated by children and is inexpensive.

However, it would take “some time” before UK and European regulators approved the medication for use in myopia management.

If it is effective it is very likely it will be made widely available

Professor Augusto Azuara-Blanco

Aston University lecturer, Dr Nicola Logan, shared with OT that trial compliance among participants has been good so far.

A device within the bottle cap is able to measure compliance by recording the time and date each bottle is opened and closed.

While she noted that it was not possible to share early results from the trial, Dr Logan said that the drops appeared to be well-accepted at present.

To address the hesitation of participants who may put off by the potential to receive a placebo, researchers are allocating two children atropine for every child who receives placebo.