In addition to other available options for treating childhood myopia, one increasingly popular way to slow the progression is the use of low concentration atropine drops. Slowing the progression of the condition is critical, since it can lead to more serious ocular conditions in adults such as retinal detachment, cataracts, and glaucoma. Taking into account the rising rates of world-wide myopia, this represents a promising intervention to prevent serious complications.
And unlike other interventions, this is a non-invasive intervention without the side effects or complications that may arise with more invasive procedures. It is important to note that this is not a cure, but rather an intervention to preserve vision and stop progression of the disease. It is not without its concerns. Some parents are hesitant to use these treatments without more research, as are some optometrists who are reluctant to use these drops without comprehensive research.
Atropine treatment is relatively simple. Low dose eye drops are administered daily. Parents will need to ensure that they adhere to the treatment, particularly if they are the ones applying these drops for younger children. The efficacy of these treatments has strong support from research, and it seems to be based on its apparent reduction of correcting refractive error rather than affecting axial length elongation.
Much of the current debate centers around the specifics of the concentrations that are ideal for these drops, and offer the best corrective function without compromising safety. The American Optometric Association currently recommends a concentration of 0.05% solution based on current research to achieve the full efficacy without additional side effects.
Side effects are relatively minor and rare, and the research has shown no significant changes in an increase of pupil size. In addition to low concentration atropine for myopia, many children will still require the corrective measures of prescription glasses or contact lenses to achieve optimal vision improvement.
The treatment is relatively easy. Night-time drops need to be applied daily to slow down myopic progression. The side effects of low dose drops are considered minimal. In rare cases, an optometrist may cease the treatment, if there are signs of infection, allergy, or other side effects that suggest a bad reaction.
Atropine has been shown to effectively slow down progressive myopia. This is critical, since severe instances can lead to more serious ocular conditions in adults. This is a non-invasive intervention with minimal risk of side effects or complications that may arise with other invasive procedures. While some optometrists and parents are hesitant to use these treatments without more research, many optometrists are impressed with the research and satisfied with the overall safety of its usage. Speak with your eye doctor to see if this is a viable option for your child as part of an overall treatment strategy.