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A DRUG used to treat ulcers has been hailed as a revolutionary new treatment which can stop children becoming short-sighted.

Scientists developed a new eye gel after patients on pirenzepine noticed their vision changed as the drug temporarily altered the shape of their eyeball.

Trials have been such a success it could be on the market in five years. Children at risk would use the gel for up to four years to stop their eyeball developing an elongated myopic shape. But the new gel can benefit only those who are not already shortsighted.

One in four people are short-sighted. The condition is becoming increasingly common as more and more children sit in front of computer and TV screens. But in most cases it is inherited. If one parent is myopic, there is a 70 per cent chance their children will be shortsighted.

American professor Richard Stone, who is leading the research, said: "Extensive trials on animals show the drug appears to work.

"More importantly, all the evidence we have shows that it is an extremely safe drug."
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Author:Halle, Martin
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 1, 2000
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