Background Traumatic corneal abrasions are common ocular presenTations in the ED. There is no consensus regarding the most appropriate analgesia for this condition. Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been suggested as pain-relief to minimise systemic adverse events associated with oral analgesia.
Aim To identify and evaluate all randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the use of topical NSAIDs with placebo or any alternative analgesic interventions in adults with traumatic corneal abrasions (including corneal abrasions arising from foreign body removal), to reduce pain, and its effects on healing time.
Methods We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library and clinical trials registers up to 30/03/17. We did not use any date or language restrictions in the electronic searches for trials. We checked the reference lists of identified trials to search for further potentially relevant studies. Two review authors independently performed data extraction and assessed risks of bias in the included studies. We assessed risk of bias using the Cochrane risk of bias tool and rated the certainty of the evidence using GRADE.
Results We included nine studies that met the inclusion criteria, reporting data on 637 participants. These studies compared five types of topical NSAIDs (0.1% indomethacin, 0.03% flurbiprofen, 0.5% ketorolac, 1% indomethacin, 0.1% diclofenac) to control (consisting of standard care and in four studies used placebo eye drops). Overall, the studies were at an unclear or high risk of bias (particularly selection and reporting bias). None of the included studies reported the primary outcome measures of this review, namely participant-reported pain intensity reduction of 30% or more or 50% or more at 24 hours. Four trials, that included data on 481 participants receiving NSAIDs or control (placebo/standard care), reported on the use of ‘rescue’ analgesia at 24 hours as a proxy measure of pain control. Topical NSAIDs were associated with a reduction in the need for oral analgesia compared with control (risk ratio (RR) 0.46, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.34 to 0.61; low-certainty evidence). Approximately 4 out of 10 people in the control group used rescue analgesia at 24 hours. No data were available on the use of analgesia at 48 or 72 hours. There was no evidence from the included trials of an effect of topical NSAIDS on healing time and possible drug-related adverse events were low and balanced across intervention and control groups.
Conclusions The findings of the included studies do not provide strong evidence to support the use.
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