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Myopia progression following 0.01% atropine cessation in Australian children: Findings from the Western Australia - Atropine for the Treatment of Myopia (WA-ATOM) study.

BACKGROUND: A rebound in myopia progression following cessation of atropine eyedrops has been reported, yet there is limited data on the effects of stopping 0.01% atropine compared to placebo control. This study tested the hypothesis that there is minimal rebound myopia progression after cessation of 0.01% atropine eyedrops, compared to a placebo.

METHODS: Children with myopia (n = 153) were randomised to receive 0.01% atropine eyedrops or a placebo (2:1 ratio) daily at bedtime during the 2-year treatment phase of the study. In the third year (wash-out phase), all participants ceased eyedrop instillation. Participants underwent an eye examination every 6 months, including measurements of spherical equivalent (SphE) after cycloplegia and axial length (AL). Changes in the SphE and AL during the wash-out phase and throughout the 3 years of the study (treatment + wash-out phase) were compared between the treatment and control groups.

RESULTS: During the 1-year wash-out phase, SphE and AL progressed by -0.41D (95% CI = -0.33 to -0.22) and +0.20 mm (95% CI = -0.46 to -0.36) in the treatment group compared to -0.28D (95% CI = 0.11 to 0.16) and +0.13 mm (95% CI = 0.18 to 0.21) in the control group. Progression in the treatment group was significantly faster than in the control group (p = 0.016 for SphE and <0.001 for AL). Over the 3-year study period, the cumulative myopia progression was similar between the atropine and the control groups.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings showed evidence of rapid myopia progression following cessation of 0.01% atropine. Further investigations are warranted to ascertain the long-term effects of atropine eyedrops.

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