Eye Drops That Benefit Nearsighted Children

Eye Drops That Benefit Nearsighted Children

For adults with vision problems, an eye exam every few years may be needed to update your prescription, and glasses andcontact lenses may need to be replaced occasionally so they are up to date and don’t become too scratched or damaged. Children with vision problems, though, have an added complication. Their bodies are growing and developing so quickly that they outgrow their glasses, and need frequent changes in their prescriptions.

A team of researchers in Singapore are working towards a means of slowing the progression of nearsightedness in children with the use of atropine drops, a medicine typically used to treat lazy eyes. A five-year clinical study has found that a highly dilute eye drop, containing just 0.01% of the drug, is effective in slowing the progression of nearsightedness by up to 50%, with little to no observed side effects.

“For a long time we’ve known that atropine drops can help keep myopia from getting worse to some degree. We now have data showing that it is not only effective, but also safe” commented Dr. Donald T. Tan, RCS, FRCOphth, lead investigator and professor at the Singapore National Eye Center and the Singapore Eye Research Institute.

He added “Combined with other interventions, this treatment could become a great ally in preventing myopia from causing serious visual impairment in children worldwide.” The current hope is that these findings may lead to using medication as an effective treatment in the worldwide battle against nearsightedness.

The rate at which people are developing myopia is growing, and is currently the number one cause of visual impairment. Comparing statistics from just a few decade ago help to quantify the problem. Approximately 25% of the population in the US and Europe in the 1970s were affected by nearsightedness, but today, that number has grown to 42%. Even more astonishing, in Asian countries, between 80-90% of people are nearsighted.

by Martin Burns

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