Atropine (Minims atropine sulphate)
How does it work?
Minims atropine sulphate are single-use preservative-free eye drops that contain the active ingredient atropine. This is a type of medicine called an antimuscarinic. It is also known as a mydriatic (which means it dilates the pupil) and a cycloplegic (which means it temporarily paralyses the muscles that help your eyes focus).
Atropine works by blocking muscarinic receptors that are found in the muscles of the eye. These receptors are involved in controlling the size of the pupil and the shape of the lens.
By blocking the muscarinic receptors in the eye, atropine causes the pupil to dilate. It also temporarily paralyses the muscle that normally changes the shape of the lens so that the eyes can focus on an object.
Atropine eye drops are used to dilate the pupil and relax the lens so that eye examinations can be carried out thoroughly. They are often used to aid eye examinations in young children.
Atropine eye drops may also be used to treat a lazy eye in children. The drops are used in the good eye to dilate the pupil and blur near vision in the good eye, which encourages the lazy eye to work properly. The effect in the good eye is not permanent and vision in the good eye will return to normal once your child stops using the atropine.
Atropine eye drops are also used to relax the ciliary muscle in a condition called anterior uveitis. In this condition the iris (the coloured part of the eye) and the ciliary body are inflamed. The inflammation can cause painful spasms in the ciliary muscle and can result in the iris sticking to the lens. Atropine eye drops are used to prevent these problems. They are usually used in conjunction with steroid eye drops that reduce the inflammation in the iris and ciliary body.
What is it used for?
- Dilating the pupil to aid examination of the inside of the eyeball, eg the fundus and retina.
- Paralysing the ciliary muscle in eye tests to determine the true refractive error of the lens (cycloplegic refraction), particularly in children. This helps the eye specialist to decide what sort of lens will be needed to correct vision.
- Treating a lazy eye (amblyopia) in children.
- Anterior uveitis. In this condition there is inflammation of the iris (the coloured part of the eye) and the ciliary body. Atropine eye drops are used to prevent painful spasms in the ciliary muscle and to prevent a complication where the iris can stick to the lens.
How do I use it?
- Your doctor or eye specialist will usually put these drops in for you if they are being used in an eye examination.
- If you are using the drops as part of a treatment programme you should follow the instructions given by your doctor.
- Wash your hands before using the eye drops.
- Twist off the cap from the minim. Pull your lower eyelid down gently, and then gently squeeze the minim until one drop falls inside your lower eyelid. Make sure the dropper does not touch any parts of your eye or any other surface. Close your eyes to let the drop spread over the eyeball.
- You can minimise the amount of medicine that is absorbed into the bloodstream by pressing on the tear duct while putting in the drops, and for a few minutes after. The tear duct is at the corner of the eye closest to your nose. It is particularly important to do this if the drops are being used in children or elderly people.
- Repeat for the other eye if necessary, then throw away the minim even if some solution is left.
- These eye drops may give you blurred vision and your pupils may be bigger than normal for a few hours after the drops are put in, which can make your eyes more sensitive to light. You may want to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes while your pupils are bigger than normal. Do not drive or perform hazardous activities until these effects have worn off and your vision is clear again.
- When you stop using atropine as part of a treatment programme it can take about a week for pupil size in the treated eye to return to normal.
- Each minim is sterile and for single use only. It should contain enough solution to treat both eyes if required. If there is any solution left in the minim after use it should be discarded and not kept for future use, as it is likely to become contaminated with dirt or germs.
Use with caution in
- Elderly people (see above).
- Children (see above).
- People with raised pressure within the eyeball (raised intraocular pressure) or who could experience this when the pupil is dilated by these eye drops.
Not to be used in
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
- The safety of this medicine for use uring pregnancy has not been established. Tell your doctor if you are or think you could be pregnant before using these eye drops.
- The safety of this medicine during breastfeeding has not been established. It may pass into breast milk. Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding before using this medicine.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
- Temporary stinging after putting in the drops.
- Temporary blurred vision and dilated pupils (see warning section above).
- Raised pressure inside the eye.
- With prolonged use, eye irritation, conjunctivitis, or redness or swelling of the eye or eyelid may occur.
- Dry mouth.
- Flushing or dryness of the skin.
- Increased body temperature.
- Difficulty passing urine.
- Increased heart rate.
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.
For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
How can this medicine affect other medicines?
It is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist what medicines you are already taking, including those bought without a prescription and herbal medicines, before you start treatment with this medicine. Similarly, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medicines while using this one, to make sure that the combination is safe.
If you are using more than one type of eye drop you should administer them at least five minutes apart, to prevent the subsequent drops washing away the first. Use eye gels or ointments last.
Other medicines containing the same active ingredient