Self-Report of Severity of Ocular Pain Due to Light as a Predictor of Altered Central Nociceptive System Processing in Individuals With Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease

Daniel A. Rodriguez, Anat Galor, Elizabeth R. Felix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Dry eye disease (DED) is a diagnosis given to individuals with a heterogeneous combination of symptoms and/or signs, including spontaneous and evoked ocular pain. Our current study evaluated whether and which ocular pain assessments could serve as screening tools for central sensitization in individuals with DED. A cohort of individuals with DED symptoms (n = 235) were evaluated for ocular pain, DED signs (tear production, evaporation), evoked sensitivity to mechanical stimulation at the cornea, and evidence of central sensitization. Central sensitization was defined for this study as the presence of pain 30 seconds after termination of a thermal noxious temporal summation protocol (ie, aftersensations) presented at a site remote from the eye (ventral forearm). We found that combining ratings of average intensity of ocular pain, ratings of average intensity of pain due to light, response to topical anesthetic eye drops, and corneal mechanical pain thresholds produced the best predictive model for central sensitization (area under the curve of .73). When examining ratings of intensity of ocular pain due to light alone (0–10 numerical rating), a cutoff score of 2 maximized sensitivity (85%) and specificity (48%) for the presence of painful aftersensations at the forearm. Self-reported rating of pain sensitivity to light may serve as a quick screening tool indicating the involvement of central nociceptive system dysfunction in individuals with DED. Perspective: This study reveals that clinically-relevant variables, including a simple 0 to 10 rating of ocular pain due to light, can be used to predict the contribution of central sensitization mechanisms in a subgroup of individuals with DED symptoms. These findings can potentially improve patient stratification and management for this complex and painful disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)784-795
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pain
Volume23
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Dry eye disease
  • aftersensations
  • central sensitization
  • ocular pain
  • photoallodynia
  • photophobia
  • quantitative sensory testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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