Myopia, commonly called nearsightedness, is a condition where distance vision is blurry and near vision is clear. And, it is a growing problem: The National Eye Institute notes nearly 41.6% of Americans are nearsighted—up from 25% in 1971.
The American Optometry Association states myopia usually starts in school-aged children. What happens is the eye grows too long, which doesn’t allow light to correctly enter the retina, making distant objects out of focus. As children grow older, the problem can increase.
The good news is researchers are exploring treatment options that can help slow the progression of myopia.
Childhood myopia study
Because myopia can lead to a higher risk of certain eye diseases, such as glaucoma and retinal detachments, it is important to identify a way to slow its progression. Recently, researchers at Banner - University Medical Center Tucson started a study to determine if eye drops including a low dose of atropine sulfate can slow the progression of nearsightedness in children.
The study is open to children 3 to 10 years old who have been diagnosed with myopia. Expect additional screening questions before scheduling an appointment.
By participating in this study, parents and children become an important part of the effort.
Benefits of being in the myopia study
Choosing to enroll your child into a research study can be a difficult decision. When considering signing up for this myopia study, keep these things in mind:
- A child’s nearsightedness may or may not progress during this study.
- The results of this study may help other children with myopia in the future.
- There are no costs to parents or children to participate in the study. All study-related drugs and procedures will be provided at no cost.
- Parents will be compensated for study-related time and travel.
- Children will receive free eye care as well as free eyeglasses, lenses, or soft contacts if their eye prescription needs to be changed.
Currently, there are no other eye drops for myopia approved by the FDA.
Potential risks or side effects of the myopia study
Choosing to participate in a research study can be a difficult decision because of the unknown. In this case, while low-dose atropine has been shown to be well-tolerated in other countries, it has not been well-studied in the USA.
A child in the study could experience one or more of these side effects:
- Eye discomfort
- Blurred near vision
- Light sensitivity
- Stinging at the same time the eye drop is used
- Inflammation of the cornea
- Dry eye
- Redness and swelling of the eye or eyelid
At higher doses, atropine can cause irritability, fast heartbeat, restlessness, dryness of skin, mouth or throat and flushed skin on face or neck. Because of these potential risks, any child in the study needs to let his or her parents know if anything new happens while using the study drug.
There may be other risks or side effects of atropine eye drops that haven’t been discovered. We always share new information as it becomes available during the trial with all participating families.
If you are interested in learning more about the study, please call Jill Brickman-Kelleher, Clinical Research Manager at Banner University Medical Group, at 520-694-1471.