Transcorneal electrical stimulation for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa: results from the TESOLAUK trial
Wagner SK., Jolly JK., Pefkianaki M., Gekeler F., Webster AR., Downes SM., MacLaren RE.
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.