Results from the first randomised clinical trial in low-concentration atropine for myopia control in Australian children have been published.
The study showed that, overall, 0.01 per cent atropine eye drops have a modest effect – slowing down myopia progression by 35 percent, and slowing down eye growth by 33 percent, after 18 months of treatment.
Specifically, the study found that the eye drops were very effective in children of European descent – being able to slow down both myopia progression and eye growth by 50 per cent in the first year.
In children of mixed Asian-European and other non-Asian descent, the eye drops were even more effective, slowing down myopia by 59 per cent and eye growth by 96 per cent in the first year.
However the eye drops did not have an effect in children with solely an East/South Asian ancestry. The study authors recommend that these children may require higher concentrations of eye drops.
Interestingly, the eye drops seemed to lose effect between 18 and 24 months of treatment. This was likely because over time, some study participants withdrew from the trial – and these participants were more likely to have faster myopia progression. Thus, the effects of the eye drops may have been underestimated in the study.
The findings were recently presented and well-received by global myopia experts at the International Myopia Institute in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The presentation session was co-chaired by the study lead author, Dr Samantha Sze-Yee Lee from the Lions Eye Institute, and Dr Jason Yam of the low-concentration atropine for myopia progression (LAMP) study in Hong Kong.
Importantly, this is not just an Australia-first study, but also the first such randomised trial in a Western population and in a multiracial cohort of children.
The results of the study, Low-concentration atropine eye drops for myopia, were published in August 2022.
Jessica, nine years old and a patient at the Lions Eye Institute, has been treated with atropine drops for the past 12 months.
Jessica was a happy and active five year old when she was first referred to the Lions Eye Institute in 2018 after a routine school vision check. Her vision was blurry, which resulted in her seeing an optometrist. The optometrist diagnosed her with strabismus and mild early onset myopia (short-sightedness), and referred Jessica to Dr Antony Clark at the Lions Eye Institute.
Dr Clark confirmed the diagnosis of strabismus, a condition where the eyes are misaligned and may result in causing a squint. Jessica’s strabismus has now been corrected by wearing glasses. Unfortunately, Jessica’s early onset myopia progressed quickly. She has been treated with atropine drops, currently the most effective therapy for myopia, for the past 12 months to help slow its progression.
Jessica loves playing the violin, reading, and drawing. She she loves animals and would like to become a veterinarian. Jessica’s mum, Qi Peng, hopes that more treatments may be found to avoid Jessica’s early onset myopia developing into high myopia, which can cause blindness. She hopes her daughter will be able to live an active life and fulfil her dream of becoming a veterinarian.
View the interview with Dr Lee below