Eight trials were included in the review (n=330 infants). Four trials reported adequate randomisation; seven trials reported allocation concealment, blinding of intervention and outcome assessment.
Sucrose as the intervention (four trials): A reduction in mean Premature Infant Pain Profile (PIPP) scores (indicating significantly less pain during eye examination) was found with oral sucrose compared with placebo (WMD 1.38, 95% CI 0.41 to 2.35; I2=25%).
Topical anaesthetic as the intervention (two trials): Results were inconsistent. One trial found a significant reduction in PIPP scores with proparacaine compared with saline, while the other trial found no significant between proparacaine and placebo saline in vital signs or behaviour.
Non-pharmacological interventions (two trials): In one trial, Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP) was associated with better behavioural scores compared with standard care, but no significant differences were found for vital signs or PIPP scores. In the other trial, no statistically significant differences were found between developmental care (swaddling, pacifier and held by nurse) and standard care for vital signs or behaviour.