Why do we want to prevent myopia from increasing?
An obvious reason is that the higher your myopia, the greater the blurring of vision for distance without correction. In addition, high myopia (degree more than 600, or -6D) can result in complications in the eye such as myopic macular degeneration, choroidal neovascularisation and retinal tears and detachment. These can result in permanent loss of vision.
How can we prevent myopia from increasing?
Atropine eye drops have been found to be effective in slowing down the increase in myopia or short-sightedness in children.
Atropine eye drops are however not new. They have been used in the treatment of eye diseases for a long time.
The main effect of atropine eye drops is widening of the pupil and loss of near reading ability.
The eye drops come in different concentrations such as 1%, 0.5% and more recently 0.01%. The eye drop is usually applied once a night but once weekly dosing may be effective for the higher concentrations.
Treatment with atropine may necessitate the use of photochromatic glasses to reduce glare in bright sunlight and progressive glasses to restore near reading ability
Other side effects of atropine may include eye irritation, dry mouth, skin allergy, constipation, palpitations, fever and flushing.
For the child that is experiencing a rapid increase in the power of their myopia, at least there is now a relatively safe method to slow down that increase.
Ophthalmology. 2012 Feb;119(2):347-54. Atropine for the treatment of childhood myopia: safety and efficacy of 0.5%, 0.1%, and 0.01% doses (Atropine for the Treatment of Myopia 2). Chia A, Chua WH, Cheung YB, Wong WL, Lingham A, Fong A, Tan D.