PRESS RELEASE: NEW ATOM 3 MYOPIA STUDY AIMS TO PREVENT THE ONSET OF MYOPIA IN YOUNG CHILDREN EVEN BEFORE IT STARTS, OR CONTROL IT JUST WHEN IT IS STARTING
6 June 2017, Singapore – The Singapore National Eye Centre leads a team in a study to evaluate an eye drop that can potentially prevent the onset of myopia in children at risk.
Low dose atropine eye drops (0.01%) being evaluated in preventing the onset of myopia and in controlling the progression of low degrees of myopia in children at risk (ie. with a family history of moderate myopia)
Myopia is a refractive disorder of the eye that is becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the world. In Singapore, rates are between 10%-30% in children in their early primary years, 40-60% in their later primary years, and up to 80% in army recruits. Of these, up to 20% will have high myopia (more than 6.0 diopters). Studies have shown that persons with higher myopia are at higher risk of developing complications such as degenerative retinal changes, early–onset cataracts (in the 30s-40s) and open angle glaucoma that can be sight-threatening, later on in life.
Atropine eye drops have been evaluated in a number of clinical trials for many years, and has shown consistently positive results in slowing down the progression of myopia and the abnormal growth of the eye. The same team from the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI),Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) and Singapore Clinical Research Institute (SCRI), have performed 2 previous clinical trials, ATOM1 and ATOM2, involving 800 children, aged 6-12 years, using varying concentrations of atropine (1.0%, 0.5%, 0.1% and 0.01%). These studies show that low dose atropine eye drops of 0.01% can slow myopia progression by 50-60% with none of the side effects noted with higher doses (ie. no near blur or glare). We have since been treating children with well-established myopia clinically with atropine
0.01% eye drops produced either by our hospital pharmacy, or manufactured under license by a reputable pharmaceutical company.
As a result of our trials, we now know that atropine can reduce or slow down myopia progression in children, at least above the age of 6 years. However, in Singapore, myopia can start even earlier, and it is also well-recognised that children who develop myopia early in life, are more likely to end up with high myopia later in life. We are also able, to some extent, to predict which children may be at risk of developing myopia, and children with myopic parents have an increased risk of developing myopia. Furthermore, myopia, after its onset is also not reversible.
In this study, to be performed at the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) and the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) supported by Singapore Clinical Research Institute (SCRI), we hope to determine if atropine eyedrops 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. The study involves using 0.01% atropine eye drops in young children at risk (ie. aged 5- 9 years with at least 1 parent with moderate myopia) with a no myopia, but are at a pre-myopic state (+1.00 to -0.50D) or in young children with early low levels of myopia (-0.50 to -1.50D). We hope to see if this treatment can be used to (a) prevent or retard the onset of myopia in children, and to (b) reduce myopia progression in those with low myopia at a younger age.
If 0.01% atropine eye drops are effective in preventing the onset of myopia or myopia progression in these high risk young children, then it may also reduce the risk of high myopia and its associated sight-threatening complications when they become adults.
The investigators of the study at SNEC and SERI are:
i) Associate Professor Audrey Chia
Head and Senior Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus
Dept, SNEC; Co-Head, Myopia Research Group, SERI; and Head and
Senior Consultant, Ophthalmology Service, KK Women’s and
ii) Professor Donald Tan
Arthur Lim Professor in Ophthalmology, SNEC and Duke-NUS Medical
School; and Principle Investigator of past ATOM studies
iii) Paediatric ophthalmologists based at the Singapore National Eye
iv) The scientific and operational team from Singapore Clinical Research
Institute (SCRI), a National Academic Clinical Research Organisation led by Associate Professor Teoh Yee Leong, Public Health Specialist, CEO, SCRI and Associate Professor, Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore will provide the research operations support for the study.
Those interested to participate in the study may call Tel: 63224500 and 63224501 or leave their contact number and name at our email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
“In this study, we hope to determine if atropine eyedrops 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, ” Associate Professor Audrey Chia.
“If 0.01% atropine eye drops are effective in preventing the onset of myopia or myopia progression in these high risk young children, then it may also reduce the risk of high myopia and its associated sight-threatening complications
when they become adults, ” Professor Donald Tan
“Childhood myopia is a major public health problem among children in Singapore with about two third of children myopic by the age of 12. If this study is successful, we will be able to manage this childhood public health
problem in Singapore” Associate Professor Teoh Yee Leong
“Myopia is a national public health problem, starts early in Singaporean children, leading to major sight threatening diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration in adulthood. Thus, any strategies to prevent myopia has to start at a young age. SNEC and SERI is committed to the fight against myopia,’ Professor Wong Tien Yin, Medical Director, SNEC and Chairman, SERI
Singapore National Eye Centre
Singapore Clinical Research Institute
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