Phantom eye: features and prevalence. The predisposing role of headache


M Nicolodi, Interuniversity Headache Centre of Neurochemistry and Clinical Pharmacology of Idiopathic Headache, 18 V.le Peraccini, 50139 Florence, Italy. Tel. 39 55 43 59 22, fax. +39 55 59 75 00.


We prospectively evaluated the frequency, time-course and predisposing factors of phantom eye syndrome in 53 patients who underwent surgical eye amputation to cure ocular cancer. Before surgery, patients were classified as Group 1 (n=25) if they had no history of headache or Group II (n=28) if they were headache sufferers. Three clinical patterns were distinguished: phantom pain, non-painful phantom phenomena and photopsias. Their symptoms developed 7 days to 6 months after surgery, with peak incidence after 6 months (photopsia 43%; phantom pain 28%; non-painful phantom phenomena 62%). Phantom eye syndrome was more common in headache sufferers than in non-headache subjects. Headache sufferers were more prone to phantom pain, but more so to non-painful phenomena and photopsias. These findings are in accord with our previous results indicating that prima y headache sufferers are prone to phantom tooth pain.