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What is atropine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
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.
What brand names are available for atropine?
Is atropine available as a generic drug?
Do I need a prescription for atropine?
What are the side effects of atropine?
The most common side effects reported include
What is the dosage for atropine?
Which drugs or supplements interact with atropine?
- linezolid (Zyvox),
- methylene blue,
- phenelzine (Nardil),
- procarbazine (Matulane),
- rasagiline (Azilect),
- selegiline (Eldepryl, Zelapar, Carbex),
- tranylcypromine (Parnate) and others.
Patients should ask their doctor or pharmacist before using atropine eye products if they are taking certain drugs such as
- antiarrhythmic drugs, for example, quinidine, procainamide (Procanbid), antihistamines such as meclizine (Antivert) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl),
- antispasmodics such as dicyclomine (Bentyl),
- certain medications used to treat Parkinson's disease such as benztropine (Cogentin) or trihexyphenidyl (Artane), and
- antidepressants, for example amitriptyline (Endep, Elavil).
Is atropine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of atropine sulfate in pregnant women
Small amounts of atropine were detected in human milk following administration of injectable atropine. Ophthalmic preparations of atropine are compatible with breastfeeding.
What else should I know about atropine?
What preparations of atropine are available?
Ophthalmic solution: 1%
How should I keep atropine stored?
Atropine ophthalmic solution can be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature away from heat and light.
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Atropine ophthalmic is a drug used prior to eye exams or eye surgery. Atropine widens the pupils, and treats specific inflammatory conditions of the eye, for example, uveitis. Side effects, drug interactions, dosing, storage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety should be reviewed prior to using this drug.
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Uveitis is inflammation of the eye. Symptoms include blurred vision, eye pain, eye redness, photophobia, and floaters. Treatment may involve prescription eyedrops, antibiotics, and wearing dark glasses.
Iritis is inflammation of the iris, the colored portion of the eye. Symptoms include a red, painful eye, blurry vision, and light sensitivity. Treatment usually involves cortisone eyedrops.
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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.