Opioids and Ocular Surface Pathology: A Literature Review of New Treatments Horizons

Celia García-López, Carmen Gómez-Huertas, José María Sánchez-González (Coresponding Author), Davide Borroni, Marina Rodríguez-Calvo-de-mora, Vito Romano, Rahul Rachwani-Anil, Juan Francisco Ramos-López, Santiago Ortiz-Pérez, Carlos Rocha-De-lossada

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    2 Downloads (Pure)


    This review discusses the role of opioids in the corneal surface and the different pathways and therapeutic methods of management. A literature review was performed using PubMed database. For the database search, the main searching words “opioid” and “topical opioid treatment” were used with the descriptors “cornea”, “ocular surface”, “neuropathic corneal pain”, “corneal sensitivity” and “naltrexone”; original scientific articles and reviews were included to achieve the purpose of the review. The endogenous opioid system has relevant functions in the organism, and in daily use, opioids are used as painkillers. However, these drugs may be employed for other indications as opioid pathways have a wide spectrum. The corneal surface for topical treatment is easily accessible, hence sparing the side effects of systemic opioids. Instillation of opioid antagonist substances, such as naltrexone, increases corneal healing rates and stimulates the division of corneal epithelium cells without deleterious effects. The natural modulation of endogenous opioids controls different forms of pain, including inflammatory and neuropathic pain, both in the ocular surface and in the central nervous system. There are diverse methods in controlling pain using opioids, especially in refractory forms. This review attempts to collect the literature about corneal surface and opioid pathways to provide an overview image and a possible direction of the news treatments.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1424
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of clinical medicine
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


    • Cornea
    • Neuropathic corneal pain
    • Ocular surface
    • Opioids
    • Wound healing

    Field of Science*

    • 3.2 Clinical medicine

    Publication Type*

    • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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