PURPOSE: To review the published literature on the efficacy of topical atropine for the prevention of myopic progression in children.
METHODS: Literature searches were last conducted in December 2016 in the PubMed database with no date restrictions, but were limited to studies published in English, and in the Cochrane Library database without any restrictions. The combined searches yielded 98 citations, 23 of which were reviewed in full text. Of these, 17 articles were deemed appropriate for inclusion in this assessment and subsequently were assigned a level of evidence rating by the panel methodologist.
RESULTS: Seventeen level I, II, and III studies were identified. Most of the studies reported less myopic progression in children treated with atropine compared with various control groups. All 8 of the level I and II studies that evaluated primarily myopic progression revealed less myopic progression with atropine (myopic progression ranging from 0.04±0.63 to 0.47±0.91 diopters (D)/year) compared with control participants (myopic progression ranging from 0.38±0.39 to 1.19±2.48 D/year). In studies that evaluated myopic progression after cessation of treatment, a rebound effect was noted. Several studies evaluated the optimal dosage of atropine with regard to myopic progression, rebound after treatment cessation, and minimization of side effects. Lower dosages of atropine (0.5%, 0.1%, and 0.01%) were found to be slightly less effective during treatment periods of 1 to 2 years, but they were associated with less rebound myopic progression (for atropine 0.01%, mean myopic progression after treatment cessation of 0.28±0.33 D/year, compared with atropine 0.5%, 0.87±0.52 D/year), fewer side effects, and similar long-term results for myopic progression after the study period and rebound effect were considered. The most robust and well-designed studies were carried out in Asian populations. Studies involving patients of other ethnic backgrounds failed to provide sufficient evidence of an effect of atropine on myopic progression.
CONCLUSIONS: Level I evidence supports the use of atropine to prevent myopic progression. Although there are reports of myopic rebound after treatment is discontinued, this seems to be minimized by using low doses (especially atropine 0.01%).