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The role of electrical stimulation therapy in ophthalmic diseases.

Fu L, Lo AC, Lai JS, Shih KC. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2015 Feb;253(2):171-6.

1Department of Ophthalmology, LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, 301B, Cyberport 4, 100 Cyberport Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China.



Electrical stimulation therapy (EST) involves the use of a low-intensity  electrical current in the treatment of neuromuscular conditions. During the recent two decades, EST has emerged as a potential neuroprotective strategy in certain ophthalmic diseases, aided by a lack of effective management for these conditions.


The aim of this review is to summarize and discuss current available evidence for the use of EST in ophthalmic diseases in the laboratory setting and in human  trials.


The compilation and review of published English-language reports on the use of EST in human ophthalmic disease and animal models ofophthalmic disease.


From published reports, research work on the use of EST in ophthalmic  diseases began in the last 20 years. Different methods of electrical  stimulation have been devised, with varying levels of invasiveness. Results from human trials have favored earlier and repeated treatment after insults to the optic nerve, while EST has shown transient effectiveness in degenerative diseases of photoreceptors. Patients also reported no serious adverse effects from EST in the clinical trials. Results from animal studies have further confirmed survival benefits of EST in retinal cell survival, with the underlying mechanism likely multifactorial, but involving Müller cell modulation.


Results from human and animal studies have demonstrated the relevance and potential effectiveness of EST in ophthalmic disease. However, optimal  disease  and species-specific stimulation settings need to be defined.

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