FRIDAY, Nov. 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Patients undergoing corneal surgery and receiving fewer opioid tablets still have adequate pain control, according to a study published online Oct. 31 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Maria A. Woodward, M.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues quantified opioid use after corneal surgery in a prospective cohort study. Direct interviews were conducted among two adult patient cohorts separated by an updated opioid prescribing guideline based on opioid use after surgery. Data were collected from Dec. 1, 2017, through Jan. 19, 2018, for the first cohort (38 patients) and from June 1 to Sept. 15, 2018, for the second cohort (44 patients).

The researchers found that of those receiving opioid prescriptions, significantly more tablets were prescribed to the first cohort (mean, 18.8 versus 6.6). Compared with the second cohort, the first cohort also used significantly more tablets (mean, 8.3 versus 4.0) and had significantly more leftover tablets (mean, 10.3 versus 2.9). In a detailed survey conducted in the second cohort, 70 and 22 percent of patients reported pain control as adequate and more than needed, respectively. Seventy-one percent of 28 participants had leftover tablets; 85 percent of these patients did not dispose of the leftovers and 15 percent threw away or flushed leftovers.

“The study serves to emphasize that ophthalmologists should balance patients’ pain control needs with opioid tablet prescribing after ophthalmic surgical procedures,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the ophthalmology and medical device industries.

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