An exciting development in the treatment for myopia in children – and what you can do to help
In the not too distant future, we hope to have developments in place for medical treatment of myopia in children. At present, researchers have not extrapolated figures for the incidence of myopia beyond 2050, but already the data for children born in 2000 show that they are developing myopia at an increasing rate, which is alarming.
This epidemic needs to be tackled head-on – not by using glasses, contact lenses and refractive surgery, but with medical treatment and a change in our behaviour. In our leisure hours, we should be getting outside into the open air and taking part in activities in natural light, particularly sunlight, which involve using our distance vision.
The eye drop guttae Atropine 0.01 per cent is currently experimental and used off-licence, or off-label, meaning that there is an agreement between the ophthalmologist and the parent on behalf of the child to use these eye drops. They are used once a day for a minimum of two years, during which time the paediatric ophthalmologist or the corneal refractive surgeon will monitor your child.
We hope to provide this medical treatment soon at Clinica London. Researchers are just completing their studies of the treatment, specifically looking at how the eye drops will influence your child’s retina and slow down myopia.
Myopia is a hot topic among children’s eye doctors and their parents, but the treatment with eye drops is not yet available in Europe. The currently available formulation of Atropine 0.01 per cent eye drops has a pH of 4, and the patient must use them for two years. Therefore, it runs the risk of causing as yet undetermined ocular surface problems.
Unfortunately, at the moment, it is an Investigational Medical Product as it has not yet received marketing approval in the EU.
There is a lot of research under way, and considerable efforts are being made to find a non-acidic stable formulation. I am sure this is going to change soon but at present atropine drops are not going to be something we can offer immediately.
The children’s ophthalmologist at Clinica London will discuss the treatment options with parents and advise them about glasses and environmental factors that can help their child.
Naz Raoof and Sajjad Ahmad at Clinica London look after refractive errors in children and adults respectively. In particular, they care for people with this debilitating problem of myopia (short-sightedness), which, unless treated, will eventually affect close to 100 per cent of the population.