Reducing the rate of myopia progression in school-aged children

Dr Samantha Lee

Western Australia Atropine for the Treatment of Myopia (WA ATOM) study

Dr Samantha Lee from the Lions Eye Institute was awarded a 2018 Healy Research Collaboration Award, in collaboration with the Centre for Eye Research, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland.

Healy Research Collaboration Award

Lions Eye Institute



Dr Lee is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Genetics and Epidemiology Group at Lions Eye Institute (LEI) and the Chief Investigator for the Western Australian Atropine for Treatment of Myopia (WA ATOM) Study.

In myopia (short-sightedness), elongation of the eyeball (axial length) affects the integrity of the posterior ocular structures, placing myopic individuals at higher risk of developing potentially blinding eye diseases. Slowing myopia progression is therefore critical to minimise its associated risks, and myopia control is best implemented during childhood when the axial length increases most rapidly.

This study was to test the hypothesis that daily instillation of 0.01% atropine eye drops reduces the rate of myopia progression and axial length growth in Australian school-aged children. The Healy Research Collaboration Award has enabled researchers at the LEI and Centre for Eye Research Ireland (CERI, Dublin Institute of Technology) to sync study protocols from the two centres, allowing the pooling of clinical data, and forming the largest study on the effectiveness of atropine in controlling myopia in Caucasian children. The collaboration has allowed Dr Lee to help the CERI team to set up their access database to facilitate the management of clinical data and has resulted in a presentation at the Lions Eye Institute’s Research Group Meeting as well as the submission of two grants arising from the Australian Registry of Children Myopia Treatment (ARCMT) project.

The proposed ARCMT project comes from the realisation that a myopia treatment registry does not yet exist in the world, despite the condition being the most common eye problem. Using Dr Lee’s database designing experience that she obtained from her collaboration with CERI, together with successful grant funding, the LEI team plans to establish the first Registry in the world that records the outcomes of myopia treatment in children.