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Atropine for Myopia Control

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The pandemic may be changing your child’s life in more ways than you have realized. Children’s screentime has increased significantly due to online classes. The pandemic not only took away children’s playtime outdoors, but also their vision. Myopia is becoming an epidemic amongst our children. Do you find your child squinting when looking at things from afar? Have you noticed them holding their devices closer and closer to their face? Your child may have myopia, otherwise known as nearsightedness. Although there is no cure for myopia, several methods are shown to slow down myopia progression. One approach involves the use of an eye drop called atropine.

What is Myopia?

  • An estimated 25 percent of Americans have myopia, otherwise known as nearsightedness. Simply put, it’s a condition that makes things far away appear blurry. 
  • As children grow taller every year, their eye ball length also increases. Typically, children with longer eye balls are shown to have higher risks of developing myopia-associated eye diseases.
  • There are a number of ways to correct myopia, from glasses to contact lenses. However, eye care professionals are becoming more and more interested in myopia control – ways to slow myopia progression.
  • People with high myopia also have an increased risk of developing more serious eye diseases later in life, such as retinal detachment, glaucoma, and cataracts. 

What is atropine? 

  • Although there is no cure for myopia, several methods have demonstrated some benefit of slowing the progression of myopia, particularly in children. One approach involves the use of low-dose atropine, which is administered in the form of eye drops. 
  • When atropine is applied, the pupils become dilated, and the eye muscles are temporarily relaxed. 
  • It’s still not quite known specifically how atropine works.
  • Usually, children’s glasses prescriptions can increase by 0.5 diopters or more per year. Low-dose atropine use has been shown to be successful in reducing that increase.

Are there any side effects? 

  • At low doses, most patients do not report any effects, though some have reported blurry vision at near and sensitivity to light. Of course, as with any drug, there is the possibility of an allergic reaction.
  • If not used properly, atropine may cause elevated heart rates, dry mouth, flushed skin, headaches, and difficulty urinating. Therefore, atropine should not be self-administered. Always seek care and instructions from an eye care professional first!
  • Overall, there are many different options to slow myopia progression and prevent future vision loss – low-dose atropine is just one of these ways. At Advanced Eye Physician, we also offer corneal refractive therapy (CRT) and orthokeratology (Ortho-K). You can read more about those treatment via the links. The specialists here will cater their treatments to each person’s unique needs and eyes. So please, do not hesitate to reach out to learn more! To see if atropine treatment is right for you or your child, feel free to schedule a consultation with one of our eye care professionals. 


Written by Nancy Tsai, MD

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