Author: Jason Higginbotham
BSc (Hons) MCOptom Prof Cert Glau Prof Cert Med Ret Prof Cert LV FBDO MBCLA
Atropine 0.01% eye drops
When you're talking to your optician or eye care professional, you might hear them mention using Atropine for myopia management. Atropine 0.01% are eye drops that have been shown to help reduce eyeball growth (axial elongation) in myopia management. Atropine has been used in eye care for many years, particularly to conduct what we call a cycloplegic refraction, where the child’s eyes are temporarily partially paralysed in order to relax them to get a more accurate measure of their true spectacle prescription.
However, in myopia management, the dosage is about one-hundredth of that normally used. This means the child’s vision is less affected or blurred. Also, the child doesn’t usually suffer any adverse eye reactions like redness, soreness, or watering, for example.
The exact mechanism that is being affected is not entirely fully understood, but it is believed that one of the driving forces behind axial elongation is during near work. When we focus on near objects, there are muscles in the eye which facilitate the change in the shape of the lens just behind the pupil.
This process is known as accommodation and the mechanical tension of prolonged muscular contraction seems to be partly responsible for the impetus to make the eyeball grow in length.
At present, there is no licenced low-dose Atropine product available in the UK. However, there are some specialist ophthalmologists who have access to the drops in the UK. A licenced option is likely to be made available soon.
Atropine 0.01% is now considered a safe and reliable therapy for myopia management , but for many, it is still not considered the best option available.
Learn more Atropine eye drops...
Not all UK optometrists are licensed to administer the drops. However some specialist optometrists and ophthalmologists are.
Sources suggest Atropine 0.02% or even a fraction higher may be more effective still, whilst keeping side effects at a minimum.
Applicators make putting in drops much easier, the drops should also always be administered in the morning daily.
Early trials of Atropine used high dosages (1%) typically designed for very short-term use, and the side effects were blurring (especially for near work), glare, eye-strain, headaches and sore/watery eyes.
Later trials used smaller doses (0.5%, 0.3% and 0.01%) and compared their efficacy and side effects. It became clear that 0.01% had a notable effect on slowing the growth of the eyeball, whilst the side effects were very minimal indeed.
Other Drops and drugs
At present, there are a range of experimental myopia management drops and even systemic drugs being trialled to see if they can effectively and safely reduce the growth of the eyeball in progressive myopia.