Treatment for Strabismus: Atropine Drops

What Are Atropine Drops?

Atropine drops are medicated eye drops that work essentially as chemical ocular patching. The purpose of atropine drops is to cause temporary blurred vision in the unaffected eye, thus muting the visual input from the eye to the brain, forcing the deviated eye to focus and therefore align. 

5mg Bottles of Atropine Drops

As with patching, atropine drops work by conditioning the neuromuscular response of the deviated eye to restore proper alignment over time. Also like patching, atropine drop therapy yields inconsistent compliance, due to side effects, drop administration, and overall patient adherence. Some studies suggest atropine is superior to patching and can be used in young children as well. 

Atropine is a competitive, reversible antagonist of the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor of the parasympathetic nervous system. It works by competing with acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter) of binding to specific receptors (M1, M2, M3, M4 and M5) thereby inhibiting the activity of those cells. It is used broadly across ocular, cardiovascular, hyper secretion, and poisoning conditions. 

Side Effects

Side effects of using atropine drops can include: 

“A Few Children May Develop A Fever Or Flushing…Medicated Drops May Make The Children More Sensitive To Light Because The Pupil Doesn’t Constrict.”

Treatment Guidelines

Treatment guidelines are once daily usage of atropine. 

“After six months of treatment, researchers found that the drug atropine, when placed in the unaffected eye once a day, works as well as eye patching and may encourage better compliance. Compliance is an important factor in the success of amblyopia therapy. Treatment should be started when the child is young, since amblyopia is more effectively treated in children under seven years of age. Timely and successful treatment for amblyopia in childhood can prevent lifelong visual impairment.”

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