Updated: May 11, 2018
A promising treatment for childhood nearsightedness (myopia) is welcome news at a time when more and more kids are being diagnosed with the condition.
Studies show that a low-dose (0.01%) of atropine, typically given as eye drops at bedtime, can significantly slow the progression of myopia in children preventing severe nearsightedness.
Childhood short sight is usually diagnosed when children are around 5 to 7 years old. Often, vision gets worse during the eye’s rapid growing years, and levels off at about age 12. People with myopia can see well close-up, but not in the distance.
Until recently, the only treatment for paediatric short sight was glasses, with frequent prescription updates as vision gets worse.
Short sight isn’t reversible and children treated with low-dose atropine still need glasses. But in most cases, their near-sightedness doesn’t get nearly as bad as it does for children who haven’t received the treatment.
The research shows that for most children — about 90 percent — their rate of myopia progression decreases or slows by about half. Better yet, most children receiving the treatment have no side effects. About 1 percent report a little redness or itching in or around the eye.
This is very exiting research as globally there is a sharp increase in childhood short-sight.
Research shows that children who are exposed to less outdoor daylight in early childhood are more likely to become myopic. The hypothesis is that children today are getting less exposure to natural light, spending more indoor time with computers, TVs and smartphones.
Although the use of low dose atropine is not standard practice in the UK, we believe that it is something that is very likely to be implemented very soon.
Eye sight is our most precious sense. Just as taking care of your general health, we strongly advise the importance regular eye examinations with your specialist optometrist.
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