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Is your child short-sighted?

Posted: 15 January, 2018

Do you know myopia is a risk factor for many eye diseases and blindness? Myopia (or short-sightedness) is the fastest growing condition in the world and is three times more common than obesity.

The impact on quality of life associated with myopia and its complications is substantial. Currently close to 2.5 billion people suffer from myopia and by 2050 it is expected that more than half the global population will need glasses and eye care.  It is the single most significant public health problem to challenge the world of eye care.

Here’s the important part:

Myopia is not just an optical inconvenience that requires a child to wear glasses or contact lenses. What surprises most people is that myopia is a top three cause of blindness in Ireland and parts of Europe among working-age people (with blinding complications occurring as young as 15-years-old), and is the leading cause in parts of East Asia. The risk of eye disease and blindness are higher if a child becomes short-sighted early in life or if one or both parents are short-sighted. In terms of overall risk profile, mild levels of myopia appear to be as dangerous to ocular health as smoking and hypertension are to cardiovascular health. 

What can be done?

There is no available treatment for myopic maculopathy which is the most common blinding complication of myopia.  As more people become myopic, more people will go blind as a consequence.  A ground-breaking clinical trial, led by Professor James Loughman in the Centre of Eye Research Ireland (CERI) in DIT will focus on preventing a child becoming more short-sighted, therefore aiming to prevent future eye disease and blindness. This trial, called MOSAIC (Myopia Outcome Study of Atropine in Children), uses low-dose Atropine eye drops which have been used safely for decades by ophthalmologists to treat other eye disorders in children. A very small dose, 100 times lower than the normal clinical dose, will be used to inhibit the abnormal eye growth pattern that is associated with myopia. Low dose Atropine eye drops have been proven in Asia to be the most effective for long-term myopia control.

Recruiting participants for MOSAIC trial

MOSAIC is now recruiting 6 to 16-year-olds for an initial eye test, in advance of the clinical trial. This involves a visit to the Centre for Eye Research Ireland (CERI) in DIT Grangegorman. At this visit, vision and health checks will help determine if your child is suitable to take part in the clinical trial. At this visit, children do not have to use any eye drops or start treatment.  You will also have the chance to ask any questions about the trial. If suitable to take part in the clinical trial, and if both parent and child agree to do so, treatment would begin six months after this initial visit.

Are you interested in participating?

If you have a son, daughter, nephew, niece or know of a child who is short-sighted and therefore at increased risk of blindness, we would encourage you to talk to us and consider enrolling them in the trial so we can reduce their lifetime risk of vision impairment. Contact a member of the team at mosaic@dit.ie who will be happy to have a chat with you about the clinical trial and answer any questions you may have.