Pioneering advances for control of myopia in children - the SHIELD initiative

Short-sightedness (or myopia) is the commonest eye problem in Ireland and is growing all over the world. It now affects up to 90% of young adults in Asia and up to 50% in Western countries. As well as the costs and frustrations of not being able to see well without glasses, myopia is also bad for the health of our eyes. As we get older our eyes are at risk of a range of diseases that can damage eyesight in a way that can no longer be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. These diseases include glaucoma and cataract. Even people with mild levels of myopia face double the risk of getting these conditions. Myopia increases the risk of other conditions, such as a retinal detachments and myopic maculopathy, by up to 10-fold. To put this into perspective, being short-sighted is as bad for your eye health as smoking or high blood pressure is for your heart.
Currently there are no established treatments to stop people becoming short-sighted, and no treatments to stop them getting worse if they do. This project is designed to test a promising new treatment that might stop myopia getting worse. Over two years we will be testing a painless eye drop (containing a drug called atropine) that is given once a day at night. The purpose of this experiment (or clinical trial) is to see if the eye drops work and to make sure it is safe and acceptable to young people with myopia. As well as testing the drop, we will look at how the eye grows in myopia, and use our data to firstly understand myopia better, and secondly develop a system to predict who might be at risk of developing myopia. This project is the first of its kind in Europe.

Award Date
01 July 2016
Award Value
€300,000
Principal Investigator
Professor James Loughman
Host Institution
Dublin Institute of Technology
Scheme
MRCG-HRB Joint Funding Scheme