Transcorneal electrical stimulation for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa: results from the TESOLAUK trial

BMJ Open Ophthalmol. 2017 Dec 14;2(1):e000096. doi: 10.1136/bmjophth-2017-000096. eCollection 2017.


Objective: To explore the impact of weekly transcorneal electrical stimulation (TES) over a 6-month period as a treatment for retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

Methods and analysis: A prospective open-label observational trial was carried out assessing weekly TES in participants with RP for a period of 6 months followed by observation for a further 6 months. Clinical examination and investigations were carried out at 3 monthly intervals for a total of 12 months. The primary outcome measure explored safety through a descriptive analysis of adverse effects with secondary outcome measures evaluating structural and functional efficacy.

Results: Seven male and seven female participants with RP aged 18-80 years were recruited. TES was well tolerated with no serious adverse events reported. Two participants reported transient foreign body sensation and one participant had discomfort underneath the skin electrode. Following 6 months of TES, best-corrected visual acuity increased by 1.1±1.4 letters in the control arm and 0.93±1.4 letters in the treated arm. Central microperimetry threshold sensitivity rose by 0.02±0.5 decibels (dB) and 0.37±0.4 dB and Goldmann visual field volume by 0.16±0.09 steradians (sr) vs 0.22±0.12 sr for the control and treated eye, respectively. There was no statistical significance seen between eyes following the treatment or observation period.

Conclusion: This small open-label clinical trial showed that TES was safe and well tolerated in patients with RP. Visual function measurements at 6 months demonstrated no significant difference between the control and treated eyes. The results justify a larger clinical trial over a longer period of time in order to identify any treatment effect.

Keywords: clinical trial; degeneration; genetics; retina; treatment other.