Intravenous buprenorphine reduces pupil size and the light reflex in humans

Wallace B. Pickworth, Edward Bunker, Phyllis Welch, Edward Jackson Cone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The pupillary effects of intravenous buprenorphine were studied in eight nondependent male subjects who reported previous opiate use. Buprenorphine (0.3, 0.6, and 1.2 mg) decreased pupil size, the amplitude of the light reflex, and the velocities of constriction and dilation. Significant pupillary effects occurred within 15 min of the injection and persisted for 24 hr. At 48 hr most measures returned to baseline levels. Generally the magnitude of the effect was not dose related although recovery occurred sooner after the lower dose. The time course of the pupillary effects of buprenorphine exceeds duration of its analgesic and subjective effects. Previous studies have reported that pupillary measures are especially sensitive to the acute effects of full opiate agonists. The results of the present study indicate that buprenorphine, a partial opiate agonist, causes profound and persistent effects on pupillary size and dynamic measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-138
Number of pages10
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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