atropine

A powerful dilating drop. This drop is so powerful, in fact, that your eye may be dilated for a week after its use.  This is also a cycloplegia drop typically given in cases of ocular inflammation (iritis) to help with pain control by temporarily paralyzing the iris muscle inside the eye. The drop is often used after retina surgery for similar reasons, but also because atropine appears to have some anti-inflammatory properties in its own right.  Young children can take a long time to dilate, so this drop is occasionally used at home to dilate a child prior to their eye exam. The blurring effect can also be used as a kind of “chemical patching” in cases of amblyopia (lazy eye) – especially useful in a child who won’t wear an eye patch.  Atropine is one of the oldest eye medications out there and has been used since Victorian times when it was used to dilate women’s eyes to make them look more striking. It is extracted from the belladonna nightshade plant … thus, comes the saying “belle of the ball.”  It is on the generic list at most pharmacies and is inexpensive.

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Dr. Timothy Root is a practicing ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon in Daytona Beach, Florida. His books, video lectures, and training resources can be found at:

1 COMMENT

  1. Atropine is a surprisingly useful drop, though we don’t use it that often. I tend to use it for:

    1. Eye pain from iritis
    2. In blind non-seeing eyes with inflammation
    3. In children with amblyopia who won’t tolerate a patch

    It is important to wash your hands after using this drop, however … if you get it into the wrong eye, you could be dilated (and blurry) for a week.

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