One of these options was a strong dilation drop, Atropine 1%, that is applied twice per week. The child would have dilated eyes and an inability to read without reading glasses, so along with the Atropine 1% prescription, we would have to simultaneously prescribe transitions (turn dark outside, clear inside) and progressive lenses (like a no-line trifocal).
Such an extreme treatment wasn’t very palatable or economical for most people. Well, thanks to further research, there is a new treatment we can try for myopia control that involves using Atropine 0.01%.
Yes, we still use Atropine, but at a much smaller concentration which avoids pupil dilation and paralyzing the focusing muscle. Your child can still use their normal glasses instead of expensive ones.
The main catch is that you have to instill the drops every night and this formulation is only available at certain pharmacies called compounding pharmacies, like Spences’s. Also, your insurance will not cover a compounded medicine, so your out of pocket cost for a 15 mL bottle of Atropine 0.01% is going to be about $125 or more. Only one pharmacy in all Cache Valley has a sterile compounding room, and it’s a lot more work, expertise, and equipment to steriley compound an eye drop. All things considered, $125 is really a discount; however, it’s not a negligible charge for you, so you really need to weigh the risks and benefits for your child.
If you are concerned about your child’s myopia progression because of significant, yearly increased myopia or a family history of high myopia, then let’s talk about this treatment at your child’s next eye exam.
Want to know more?
- Read the abstract of the study cited above.
- Listen to a podcast of an interview with one of the authors of the study. Go to asseenfromhere.com and scroll down to “Program #235: Low ATOMic Numbers”
- Please note, the children in the study progressed about a click or two more of myopia each year despite using the treatment, but that’s better than the control which had about 5 clicks of progression. If your child has been having only mild increases in myopia, then trying this treatment may not be indicated. However, if your child has had an increase of one full diopter (4 clicks) of myopia in one year, then we should talk about this treatment option.
- Also note that the full Atropine 1% might appear to give less progression than the 0.01% concentration, but keep in mind the difference isn’t very significant and it comes at a great cost of undesirable side effects.
- The scientists still haven’t determined the mechanism of how Atropine is able to reduce myopia progression.
- Atropine doesn’t seem to cause any change in eye pressure according to this study.