GENERIC NAME: atropine ophthalmic
BRAND NAME: N/A
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Atropine occurs naturally and is extracted from belladonna alkaloids contained in plants. Atropine blocks the action of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that causes the contraction of two types of muscle, smooth and cardiac muscles. It also has other neurological effects. Ophthalmic atropine is used during eye examinations to dilate the pupil. Atropine is also used to weaken the contraction of the muscles within the eyes, both the muscles that operate the iris and the lens. Paralysis of the lens, called cycloplegia, results in the loss of the ability to focus vision. Paralysis of the iris (mydriasis) prevents the iris from adjusting to the brightness of incoming light and affects the ability to see clearly. In clinical studies, use of a single topical administration of atropine 1% ophthalmic solution (eye drops) resulted in maximal mydriasis (pupil dilation or widening) in approximately 40 minutes and maximal cycloplegia in approximately 60 to 90 minutes. In most cases, full recovery occurred in approximately one week but can take a couple of weeks. The FDA approved atropine in 1938.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Ophthalmic preparations of atropine are used before an eye exam or eye surgery to widen the pupils and to treat certain inflammatory conditions of the eye (for example, uveitis). Because of its prolonged duration of action it is not the preferred drug for dilating the pupils during routine eye examinations. Other drugs with much shorter durations of action are preferred.
SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects reported include
- eye pain,
- stinging on administration,
- blurred vision,
- sensitivity to light,
- decreased tear production,
- eyelid swelling, and
- increased heart rate and blood pressure if the atropine is absorbed from the eye.
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