Outdoor activities help to arrest the progression of myopia
Ophthalmologists encourage outdoor activities and lifestyle changes for children because they modulate myopia progression. The low dose of 0.01% Atropine is a future treatment that can be used either at bedtime, in the morning or at lunchtime.
Outdoor activities in natural light can help to arrest the progression of myopia, whereas near-vision activities in artificial light have been shown to encourage the development of myopia in children. Whilst we await the introduction of this therapy in the UK, you should make sure that your child gets out in the open air for sports, weekend recreation and activities.
Even if we immediately had low-dose Atropine eye drops available, appropriate glasses for distance vision would still have to be worn if there is low-grade myopia, and they cannot be discarded during atropine treatment, or indeed after the treatment has finished. Atropine treatment will only slow the progression, so your child would hopefully end up being in the low or moderate myopia range rather than the severe myopia category.
It is recommended that your child removes their distance-vision myopic glasses during close-up work because that could induce what is called a hyperopic defocus, which is believed to contribute to further myopia progression.
At present, treatment to reduce progression with 0.01% atropine eye drops is not available on the National Health Service or privately. We hope that it will soon become a licensed product, and at present treatments are carried out using an unlicensed, off-label product as a research tool.
This blog post is based on a review article, which appeared in Eye on June 11, 2018, entitled “Update in myopia and treatment strategy of atropine use in myopia control” by Wu PC et al.
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Naz Raoof, BA, BM BCh, FRCOphth
Ophthalmologist specialising in Paediatrics, Strabismus & Neuro-ophthalmology
Resident expert – Naz Raoof
I am a Consultant Ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the Royal London Hospital (appointed 2017).
At Clinica London, I am responsible for paediatric ophthalmology, strabismus treatment and neuro-ophthalmology. I also see adults and children with general and urgent eye problems and carry out routine and urgent procedures at Clinica London.
I trained as a doctor at the University of Oxford, qualifying in 2004. Following my training, the Royal Hallamshire Hospital (Sheffield) and the University of Sheffield employed me as a junior doctor in Ophthalmology.
I undertook two post-training specialist Fellowships in paediatrics, strabismus and neuro-ophthalmology, including 12 months at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London and in Auckland, New Zealand, before becoming a Consultant.
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