As you are probably aware, in East Asia and other countries across the world, including Australia and India, low dose atropine is becoming the ‘go to’ method of controlling myopic progression in children. In the UK, low dose atropine is not licensed for myopia control as there have been no studies testing its efficacy in children living in Europe – yet!
Two clinical research trials of low dose atropine are starting in April 2019 in Northern Ireland. They offer an exciting opportunity for optometrists here to get their patients access to low dose atropine and to help us find out about its potential benefits for myopic children.
The trials are located in Belfast and Coleraine and key aspects for potential recruits include;
• myopia of at least -0.50D mean sphere (spherical equivalent) in both eyes
• age between 6 to <12 years (Belfast) and 3 to <10 years (Coleraine) • no other ocular morbidities (i.e. good vision with correction) willingness to attend every six months for ocular measures (City Hospital, Belfast or Ulster University, Coleraine). In order to optimise retention of recruits over the trial period, we would recommend patients attend the site closest to their home, for ease of access. Children of optometrists are able to enrol! Both studies are being overseen by experienced clinical trials researchers, Prof Augusto Azuara-Blanco in Belfast and Prof Colin Willoughby in Coleraine*. If you have potential recruits amongst your patient base (or families) or if you want to find out more information, please contact Kathryn Saunders (firstname.lastname@example.org, 028 7012 4433), Emma McConnell (email@example.com, 028 7012 3650, 028 9504 0342) or Augusto Azuara-Blanco (firstname.lastname@example.org, 028 9097 1655). We look forward to hearing from you with questions, comments, potential participants. Thank you for reading this, Kathryn Saunders PhD FCOptom Augusto Azuara-Blanco Professor of Optometry and Vision Science Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology Ulster University Queen’s University Belfast *There are some differences between the Belfast and Coleraine trials, the main one being that if participating in the Coleraine trial children will use the eye drops for 4 years, compared to 2 years for the Belfast trial. The chances of being given low dose atropine rather than the placebo is higher in both trials (2:1 Belfast, 5:2 Coleraine). In the Coleraine trial participants who were on placebo for the first 3 years of the trial will be given low dose atropine for the final year of the trial. A small reimbursement is offered by each site to referring optometrists if your patient is both eligible and consents to participate (£20 Belfast, £100 Coleraine).