Oral glucose for pain relief during eye examinations for retinopathy of prematurity

J Clin Nurs. 2011 Apr;20(7-8):1054-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2010.03529.x. Epub 2011 Feb 10.


Aim: The aim of this study was to determine whether oral glucose could have a pain-relieving effect during the eye examinations that premature neonates undergo in the screening for retinopathy of prematurity.

Background: Studies have shown that orally administered sweet-tasting solutions reduce signs of pain during painful procedures such as venepuncture and heel sticks on premature and full-term infants. This effect has not yet been proven during the eye examinations for the screening of retinopathy of prematurity. Design. Randomised, controlled, double-blind study.

Method: Thirty infants born before 32 weeks of gestation and/or weighing <1500 g at birth were randomised to receive 1 ml of either 30% glucose or sterile water before the eye examination. Examinations were videotaped, and the observer was blinded to the intervention. Pain responses were scored using the premature infant pain profile. Heart rate and crying time were also recorded.

Results: There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups, neither in premature infant pain profile score, heart rate changes nor crying time.

Conclusion: This study does not support the pain-relieving effect of orally administered glucose during eye examinations in preterm infants.

Relevance to clinical practice: Oral glucose should not be used as single measure for pain relief during eye examinations of preterm infants. Other comforting and pain-relieving measures should be used.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Glucose / administration & dosage
  • Glucose / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / diagnosis*


  • Glucose