Symptoms and ocular findings associated with administration of 0.01% atropine in young adults


Clinical relevance: This paper provides eye care practitioners with important information about the potential side effects of 0.01% atropine.

Background: Eye care practitioners routinely administer 0.01% atropine eye drops nightly to slow the progression of myopia, but nobody has assessed accommodative lag or facility, near phoria, intraocular pressure or comfort of drop administration.

Methods: All 21- to 30-year-old adults with no history of accommodative issues or therapy were eligible. During the baseline visit, participants underwent testing related to potential side effects. Participants then administered one drop of 0.01% atropine nightly to both eyes, and all tests were repeated 1 week later.

Results: The average ± standard deviation age of the 31 participants was 23.9 ± 1.6 years, 71% were female, and 81% were Caucasian. The only significant changes were an increase in photopic pupil size from 4.9 ± 0.8 at baseline to 5.1 ± 0.6 mm after 1 week (paired sample t-test, p = 0.002) and an increase of the average intraocular pressure of the two eyes from 15.6 ± 2.7 to 16.7 ± 3.1 mmHg (paired-sample t-test, p = 0.003), but neither of these changes was clinically meaningful. There were no other statistically significant differences before and after 1-week administration of 0.01% atropine for any of the vision, accommodation, reading speed or subjective side effects. When asked how likely they would be to take the atropine drops to delay the onset of myopia on a scale from 1 (definitely not) to 10 (definitely would), participants replied with an average of 8.2 ± 2.0 after taking atropine eye drops for 1 week (paired-sample t-test, p = 0.81).

Conclusion: Nightly administration of 0.01% atropine did not result in any clinically meaningful symptoms, so patients would be very likely to take the drops to delay the onset of myopia.

Cyphers B, Huang J, Walline JJ. Symptoms and ocular findings associated with administration of 0.01% atropine in young adults. Clin Exp Optom. 2022 Feb 20:1-11. doi: 10.1080/08164622.2022.2033603. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35188076.