Scientists develop pill to cure myopia

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A pill to cure short-sightedness could one day become a reality, scientists say. Trials have begun, on 24 children in the United States, of a gel containing a drug called pirenzepine, formerly used as a treatment for stomach ulcers.

A pill to cure short-sightedness could one day become a reality, scientists say. Trials have begun, on 24 children in the United States, of a gel containing a drug called pirenzepine, formerly used as a treatment for stomach ulcers.

Researchers think it might be able to cure the misshapen growth of the eye that leads to short-sightedness, or myopia, in adults. It could even be possible to turn the treatment from a gel into a pill which could be taken each day - early tests of pirenzepine given as a pill to chicks found it effective at preventing myopia.

But some scientists are critical, because any such treatment would have to be taken every day for more than a decade. "Is that what we really want in terms of a drug treatment for myopia?" Neville McBrian, of the University of Melbourne, said to New Scientist magazine. He noted that if the tests succeeded, parents would find it "really difficult not to jump on that bandwagon".

Short sight occurs when the eye's lens focuses an image too strongly, so that it meets at a point in front of the retina. Corrective glasses compensate by bending the light to compensate. But the ideal would be to alter the length of the eyeball from lens to retina, bringing the retina closer, or to change the focus of the lens.

Later this month, 250 children in Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan will join the trials, being run by Valley Forge Pharmaceuticals of Irvine, California.

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