In collaboration with Keck School of Medicine

Nerve Stimulation in Chronic Ocular Pain Management

Women rubbing eye in pain

For those who suffer from chronic ocular pain, it can be debilitating. Not only does it tend to reduce one’s quality of life, but the ongoing pain can be difficult for the medical community to treat. The more tools we obtain to try to help bring about relief, the better off we will be. New research is suggesting that nerve stimulation may hold some of the keys to reducing ongoing pain.

A new study published in the May 2021 issue of the journal Neuromodulation reports the findings of a study conducted in which long-term trigeminal nerve stimulation was used to treat chronic ocular pain [1]. The results offer hope to those who may have the condition, as well as providing another treatment option for the medical community to offer.

In the study, they had 18 people participate who suffered from the condition. Participants were asked to give themselves electronic stimulation therapy at home for a minimum of three months. The electronic stimulation, which targets the sensory trigeminal nerve, was something that was easy for them to administer and report back on. This type of stimulation improves blood flow to the area and increases parasympathetic activity. 

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The light electrical stimulation was delivered to specific areas of the face over the course of months, with the participants keeping track of side effects, frequency, duration, and other factors. The researchers obtained data from the participants after six months of engaging in this type of treatment. They found that there was a decrease in the pain intensity, light sensitivity, wind sensitivity, and burning sensation. Those who have ocular pain due to migraines tended to have the biggest reduction in pain.

The researchers concluded that long-term trigeminal nerve stimulation is helpful in reducing chronic ocular pain. The treatment provides gradual and continual improvement over time. This is great news for those who have the condition, as it provides another route to try to seek relief.

According to StatPearls, chronic ocular pain involves such symptoms as having a hypersensitivity to light and wind, burning sensations, and the feeling of grittiness in the eye [2]. It can result from injury or disease and affects women more often than it does men. Chronic pain can be mentally challenging, as well as physically. Those who have an early intervention for the condition tend to have better outcomes. 

Those who have chronic ocular pain may want to inquire about long-term trigeminal nerve stimulation to see if it helps provide some relief. 

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  1. Neuromodulation. Long-Term Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation as a Treatment for Ocular Pain. May 2021. 
  2. StatPearls. Ocular Neuropathic Pain. February 2021. 
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