There is currently no available cure or universally effective treatment for dry eye (DE). The aim of the present study was to investigate the clinical efficacy of transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TES) combined with artificial tears in treating DE. Patients diagnosed with DE were referred for therapy with TES combined with sodium hyaluronate (SH)-containing artificial tears. A total of 52 patients (104 eyes) with DE were enrolled in this randomized controlled trial. The patients were randomized 1:1 to the TES + SH or SH group. The patients in the TES + SH group were treated with 20 sessions (5 sessions per week for 4 weeks), and each session lasted for 20 min. The treatment was continued for 4 weeks in all cases. The Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), tear film breakup time (BUT), Schirmer’s I test and corneal fluorescein scores were used to assess treatment efficacy. A total of 90 eyes of 45 patients completed all aspects of the study: 22 patients (44 eyes) in the TES + SH group and 23 patients (46 eyes) in the SH group. There was no statistically significant difference in sex, age or course between the two groups. The mean OSDI scores, BUT, Schirmer’s I test and corneal fluorescein scores exhibited a significant improvement in the TES + SH group compared with the SH group after treatment. No serious adverse events were recorded during TES treatment. In conclusion, TES combined with artificial tears appeared to be an effective treatment for DE. Therefore, TES may represent a new therapeutic option with promising potential applications.
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