AUG 30, 2022 9:57 AM PDT

Caffeine Metabolite Could Slow Progression of Nearsightedness in Children

WRITTEN BY: Zoe Michaud

Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a common vision condition in which objects far away appear blurry. Myopia occurs when the shape of your eye causes light rays to refract incorrectly, resulting in out of focus images. 

Nearsightedness often begins in childhood and adolescence. It typically occurs first around the age of 6 and worsens into the late teenage years. Myopia tends to run in families and is also associated with a heightened risk of various eye conditions later in life, including macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment.

7-Methylxanthine (also known as 7-MX) is a metabolite of caffeine. It acts as an adenosine receptor (AR) antagonist and has been used to treat childhood myopia in children in Denmark since 2009. Given the success of using 7-MX as a treatment in Denmark, researchers are calling for large clinical trials to prove the safety of efficacy of 7-MX, which would allow it to be used as a treatment option for myopia. 

It is thought that 7-MX works by inhibiting the excessive lengthening of the eye that causes myopia. In a recent study, researchers reviewed the medical records of 711 children who were treated for myopia in Denmark. Of the group of children, 624 took 7-MX tablets daily as part of their treatment. 

The researchers found that 7-MX treatment was associated with a slower rate of worsening myopia and lengthening of the eye. They found that, without treatment, a child’s axial length would increase by 1.80 mm over 6 years. With treatment, the axial length only increased by 1.63 mm. Higher doses of 7-MX seemed to be more effective and no negative effects of the treatment were reported. 

Since this is an observational study, it cannot be determined that 7-MX was the cause of improvements in eye health. The researchers noted that “ 7-MX may become a valuable supplement if causality and efficacy can be confirmed in future randomized controlled trials.”

Sources: MayoClinic, Ophthalmic Research, British Journal of Ophthalmology


About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Zoe (she/her) is a science writer and a scientist working in genomics. She received her B.S. from the University of Connecticut with a focus in Evolutionary Biology. At Labroots, she focuses on writing scientific content related to clinical research and diagnostics.
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