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J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2009 Jan;2(1):10-4. doi: 10.4103/0974-2700.44676.

Management of Ocular Trauma in Emergency (MOTE) Trial: A pilot randomized double-blinded trial comparing topical amethocaine with saline in the outpatient management of corneal trauma.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Mater Adults' Hospital, Raymond TCE, South Brisbane, 4101 Qld, Australia.



It is unclear whether local anesthetic eye drops can be safely used for the topical anesthesia of patients with minor corneal injury who are discharged from the emergency department (ED).


To assess whether topical 0.4% amethocaine self-administered to a maximum recommended frequency of once every hour for 36-48 h is safe in the management of uncomplicated corneal injury in patients discharged from the ED.


A pilot randomized double-blinded trial comparing topical 0.4% amethocaine with topical normal saline.


Forty-seven subjects were recruited, with 22 randomized to receive amethocaine and 25 to receive placebo (normal saline). Baseline characteristics, including corneal injury type, were similar in both groups. There were no significant functional or clinical adverse sequelae in the majority of enrolled patients who could be contacted at 2 weeks (17/22 for amethocaine and 21/25 for placebo). Follow-up for the primary study outcome was suboptimal, with only 7/22 from the amethocaine group and 9/25 from the saline group presenting for 36-48 h review; there was a statistically nonsignificant trend for persistence of the corneal defect in the amethocaine group as compared with the saline group (2/7 and 1/9, respectively).


Compared with saline drops, amethocaine eye drops are not definitely safe but they are effective for topical analgesia in minor corneal injury. Until further definitive studies, topical nonsteroidal agents or long-lasting artificial tears may be preferred for the topical analgesia of minor corneal injury. Return for corneal re-evaluation will necessarily remain suboptimal in an otherwise self-limiting condition, leading to a bias even if study recruitment is good.


Corneal injury; ocular anesthetic; topical analgesia

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