MIAMI — How common is ocular pain in patients with and without a history of refractive surgery, and what are its characteristics?

A new study sought to better understand ocular pain symptoms using a cross-sectional survey. The Miami VAMC-led study team posted a link to an anonymous survey on a corneal neuralgia Facebook group that included individuals with ocular pain from any etiology. The survey also was sent to clinic patients with ocular pain.

Questions were about medical history, ocular pain symptoms (using standardized questionnaires) and treatment responses. Respondents were split into two groups based on a history of refractive surgery. Results were published in the journal Cornea.1

Mean age of the 101 surgery respondents was 41.6, and 0% reported a history of RS. Nearly half, 46% of those with past RS, reported that their ocular pain started within one month of surgery, with median pain duration of 36 (interquartile range 22-84) months.

Researchers reported that the median Dry Eye Questionnaire-5 (range 0-22) scores were 16 and 15 for the RS and no-RS groups, respectively. They added that most respondents in both groups characterized their pain as burning (score ≥1: RS, 86%; no-RS, 80%) and affected by wind, light or temperature (score ≥1: RS, 97%; no-RS, 85%).

With 59 of 101 respondents answering treatment questions, those in in both groups reported greater than 30% improvement in pain symptoms with some topical and systemic approaches.

“Individuals with a history of RS developed ocular pain soon after surgery, which persisted for years,” the authors concluded. “Symptom profiles were similar between those with and without RS. Topical and systemic approaches can treat pain in both groups.”


  1. Baksh BS, Morkin M, Felix E, Karp CL, Galor A. Ocular Pain Symptoms in Individuals With and Without a History of Refractive Surgery: Results From a Cross-Sectional Survey. Cornea. 2021 Feb 8. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0000000000002675. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33560674.