CUHK study finds way to lower side effects of anti-myopia drops

May 08, 2019 16:52
A CUHK research team found that low-concentration atropine eye drops could reduce myopic progression for children by up to nearly 70 percent, with much reduced side effects. Photo: HKEJ

A medicine traditionally used to slow the progress of myopia can still be effective with lowered concentration while the original side effects are significantly reduced, researchers from the Faculty of Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) said.

Dr. Jason Yam Cheuk-sing, an assistant professor at the CUHK’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, said the medication, called atropine, whose concentration is normally made at one percent in eye drops, has been found in some cases to lead to a loss of focus and photophobia, or excessive sensitivity to light, because of pupil dilation, and as such, is not suitable for children's use, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

CUHK's medical school conducted the world’s first randomized placebo-controlled, double-masked trial on low-concentration atropine eye drops to evaluate their efficacy and safety.

After conducting a study between 2016 and 2017 by inviting 438 participants aged 4 to 12 who have at least 1 diopter of nearsightedness, the team found that low-concentration atropine eye drops could reduce myopic progression by up to nearly 70 percent, with much-reduced side effects.

The results showed that low-concentration atropine eye drops reduced both the spherical equivalent progression and axial length (AL) elongation that contribute to myopia, the team said in a press release on Tuesday.

The findings have been published in the international journal Ophthalmology.

A father revealed that his Primary Six daughter had had 1.5 diopter and 2.5 diopter in her left and right eyes, respectively, and a recent eyesight test showed that myopia in her right eye only increased by 0.5 diopter while that in her left eye remained unchanged after she participated in the research.

Yam pointed out that the study showed the optimal low-concentration atropine eye drop should be the one with the best balance between efficacy and safety, adding that children can stop using eye drops after their puberty since the peak period for the progression rate of myopia will have been passed by then.

The team is now planning to launch a second phase of the study to explore the efficacy and safety of the low-concentration eye drops in the long run, and their roles for preventing the onset of myopia.

To achieve the purposes, it is planning to recruit 300 children aged 4 to 9 years and without myopia to join the study.

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