Pupil response to noxious corneal stimulation

Autoři: Emmanuel B. Alabi aff001;  Trefford L. Simpson aff001
Působiště autorů: University of Waterloo, School of Optometry and Vision Science, Waterloo, ON, Canada aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 15(1)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0227771



Ocular somatosensory-autonomic reflexes play critical roles in maintaining homeostasis of the eye. The purpose of this study was to investigate the pupil response to nociceptive corneal stimuli.


A Waterloo-Belmonte pneumatic esthesiometer was used to determine detection thresholds and randomly deliver mechanical and chemical stimuli from levels of detection threshold to twice the threshold in 50% steps to the central cornea of 15 healthy subjects. For each stimulus, imaging of the stimulated/unstimulated eye was performed using two modified/calibrated Logitech c920 digital cameras for 4 seconds each, pre/post stimulus capture. The data were processed with a custom segmentation algorithm to help identify the pupils and pupil diameter was measured using ImageJ software. Pupil dilation response differences between the ipsi- and contralateral eye was analyzed using dependent t-tests. The effect of stimulus intensity, modality and sex of subjects were analyzed using repeated measures.


In mechanical and chemical stimulation experiments, there was no difference in pupil responses between the stimulated eye and the unstimulated eye, (all dependent T-test p > 0.05). On average, pupil diameter increased from baseline as the corneal stimulus intensity increased. This happened regardless of whether mechanical or chemical stimulation occurred (ANOVA p < 0.05). At 200% threshold, pupil diameter was greater than at all stimulus intensities (Tukey HSD, all p < 0.05). Based on stimulus intensity, females had greater pupil diameters than males at levels of 150% threshold and 200% threshold (ANOVA p < 0.05, all Tukey HSD p < 0.05).


This study serves as a basis for the characterization of the local stimulus-response neural circuitry relating nociceptive stimuli to autonomic responses and in combination with our work on completely separate autonomic circuits of bulbar conjunctival vessel dilation and reflex tearing suggests that the monotonic measurements of redness, tearing and pupils provide accurate, separable responses that reflect painful stimulus intensity.

Klíčová slova:

Carbon dioxide – Cornea – Eye muscles – Eyes – Neural pathways – Pain sensation – Pupil – Reflexes


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