Atropine as a myopia management option.

Atropine is a prescription medicine that is used to help manage increasing myopia.  Here are some FAQs that will provide you with answers about this unique treatment option.

What is Atropine? 

This is an eyedrop that is instilled into the child’s eye – one drop at bedtime.  It is available only by doctor’s prescription.  Atropine to control myopia is a diluted form of Atropine that is used to dilate eyes.

How does Atropine control myopia?

Studies are being conducted as you read this.  No one knows for sure.  One thought is that it blocks a chemical in the eye that triggers growth (elongation)  Another thought is that it strengthens the sclera.  The sclera is one of the eye layers responsible for giving the eye strength and support.  Strengthening the sclera may help keep the eye from elongating.  Another thought is that Atropine affects the receptors throughout the eye.  The shotgun effect is triggering control somewhere within the eye.  Soon we will have insight into how it works.

Is Atropine safe?

Yes, when used under a doctor’s supervision.  There are volumes of studies to support safety.  However, no medication is completely safe.  If a child were to drink the entire bottle, it could be fatal.  Of course, that is true for many OTC medications and household cleaners.

The dosage used for myopia management is very dilute.  .01%-,05% is the typical dosage.  This is 50-100 times weaker than 1% Atropine that is used to dilate eyes.

What are the side effects?

They are not common.  Only a small percentage of kids report any symptoms.  These include mild irritation, mild sensitivity to bright light, and blurred vision.  The drops are administered at bedtime to reduce symptoms.  Even if they experience symptoms initially, they often go away.

How is it used?

It can be used as a single treatment to control myopia or in combination with other treatments such as orthokeratology, vision therapy or soft myopia control contact lenses.   The doctor will recommend a treatment protocol that is customized to the patient.

Does the patient need to use glasses with atropine treatment?

Glasses are recommended with a photochromic filter to shield the eyes from harmful UV rays. Sometimes the doctor will prescribe a multifocal design to be used in conjunction with the atropine treatment.

What is the patient’s obligation?

They must also be compliant and use the drops as prescribed by the doctor (not more or less).

The patient must return for follow-up to ensure that the treatment is effective and that their eyes remain healthy.