Transcorneal electrical stimulation for patients with retinitis pigmentosa: a prospective, randomized, sham-controlled exploratory study

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Jun 23;52(7):4485-96. doi: 10.1167/iovs.10-6932.


Purpose: To assess the safety of transcorneal electrical stimulation (TES) and explore its efficacy in various subjective and objective parameters of visual function in patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

Methods: Twenty-four patients in this prospective, randomized, partially blinded, good-clinical-practice study underwent TES (5-ms biphasic pulses; 20 Hz; DTL electrodes) 30 minutes per week for 6 consecutive weeks. The patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups: sham, 66%, or 150% of individual electrical phosphene threshold (EPT). Visual acuity (VA), visual field (VF; kinetic, static), electroretinography (Ganzfeld, multifocal), dark-adaptation (DA), color discrimination, and EPTs were assessed at all visits or four times, according to the study plan.

Results: TES using DTL electrodes was tolerated well; all patients finished the study. Two adverse (foreign body sensation), but no serious adverse events were encountered. There was a tendency for most functional parameters to improve (8/18) or to remain constant (8/18) in the 150% group. VF area and scotopic b-wave amplitude reached statistical significance (P < 0.027 and P < 0.001, respectively). Only desaturated color discrimination and VF mean sensitivity decreased. There was no obvious trend in the 66% group.

Conclusions: TES was found to be safe in RP patients. Positive trends were discovered, but due to the small sample size of this exploratory study, statistical significance was reached only for VF area and scotopic b-wave amplitude. Further studies with larger sample sizes and longer duration are needed to confirm the findings and to define optimal stimulation parameters. ( number, NCT00804102.).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Color Perception
  • Cornea
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Electroretinography
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / diagnosis
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / physiopathology
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / therapy*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity*
  • Visual Fields*

Associated data