SINGAPORE - For several years now, Singapore researchers have known that atropine eye drops, which is used to treat myopia, can stop the condition from getting worse.
It can even improve the eyesight of a lucky few.
The Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) is now embarking on a 3 1/2 year study to "determine if atropine eye drops can actually prevent or slow the onset of myopia in young children with myopic parents, just before it starts, or at the very early onset".
Myopia, more commonly known as short-sightedness, is increasingly prevalent throughout the world, especially in Singapore where 80 per cent of children are set to develop it by the age of 18, according to SNEC.
Singapore is known as the myopia capital of the world.
In a press conference on Tuesday (June 6), Associate Professor Audrey Chia, Investigator for the Atropine Treatment Of Myopia 3 (Atom 3), said the new study is a collaboration between the Singapore Eye Research Institute (Seri), Singapore Clinical Research Institute (SCRI) and SNEC.
"Unlike Atom 1 and 2, which is a treatment-based study to reduce myopia progression in myopic children, Atom 3 is different as we are targeting children who have yet to develop myopia," said Dr Teoh Yee Leong, Chief Executive Officer of SCRI.
In the Atom 3 study, children aged between five to nine will be given low-dose atropine eye drops of 0.01 per cent.
The new study taps on the success of Atom 2, conducted from 2005 to 2012, which showed that low-dose atropine eye drops can slow down myopia progression by 50 to 60 per cent, with no side effects such as near blur or glare noted with the higher dose of one per cent.
Parents who are interested in enrolling their child in the study may contact Seri at 63224500 or 63224501, or leave their contact details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The child must be between five and nine years of age, with at least one parent with myopia, as the study is targeting children with a higher risk of myopia.
They must not have sought treatment for myopia prior to this study.