We aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of low-dose atropine compared to placebo in the Indian population and also to study the impact of various modifiable and non-modifiable factors on myopia progression (MP) and drug efficacy (DE). It was a single-centre prospective placebo-controlled interventional study. 43 participants aged 6–16 years with progressive myopia received 0.01% atropine in the right eyes (treatment) and placebo in the left eyes (control) for 1-year. The main outcome measures were annual MP and axial length elongation (ALE) in treatment and control eyes and their percentage difference between two eyes (drug efficacy). Secondary outcome measures were the occurrence of any adverse events and the correlation of MP, ALE, and DE with various factors. 40 participants (80 eyes) completed the follow-up. After 1-year, MP was 0.25 D (IQR 0.13–0.44) and 0.69 D (IQR 0.50–1.0) (p < 0.001) in treatment and control respectively (63.89% reduction) with respective ALE of 0.14 mm (IQR 0.05–0.35) and 0.32 mm (IQR 0.19–0.46) (p < 0.001) (44.44% reduction). No adverse events were noted. Reduction in MP and ALE was statistically significant in all children irrespective of age-group, baseline MP, family history, screen-time, near and outdoor-time. The strongest determinants of annual MP were age (Treatment: r = − 0.418, p = 0.007; Control: r = − 0.452, p = 0.003) and baseline MP (Treatment: r = 0.64, p = 0.000; Control: r = 0.79, p = 0.000). Screen-time in control eyes was associated with greater ALE (r = 0.620, p = 0.042). DE was higher when outdoor time exceeded 2 h/day (p = 0.035) while the efficacy was lower with prolonged near activities (p = 0.03), baseline fast-progressors (p < 0.05) and history of parental myopia (p < 0.05). 0.01% atropine is effective and safe in retarding MP and ALE in Indian eyes.
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