Autologous Serum Tears
Your Blood, Your Tears… No Sweat!
Your tears are complex in nature and crucial to eye health. Unfortunately, patients with moderate to severe dry eye may just not produce enough tears to remain comfortable, and supplementing natural tear production with artificial tears or lubricants is often inadequate. Many people have underlying medical issues which cause or worsen dry eye, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease. Others take medications which diminish tear production. In many cases, there may not be a “quick fix” for the problem. At Azle Vision Source, we work to find relief for patients with dry eye and to prevent long term damage to the ocular surface resulting from a lack of tear production.
What are Autologous Serum Eye Drops? Autologous means that the donor and the recipient are the same person. The eye drops in this case are made from your own blood. Red blood cells and clotting factors are removed, leaving behind blood serum. This is diluted with a sterile, preservative-free solution to produce a tear substitute that is unique to the patient, and contains many important growth factors and nutrients normally found in healthy tears. Since blood and tears have an almost identical salinity and pH, there is no issue of burning or stinging upon instillation. Because they are non-preserved, the drops are stored in the freezer until you need them.
How do you make them? Both a laboratory and compounding pharmacy are used to easily and efficiently draw your blood and process it into usable eye drops. After the blood sample is obtained, you transport it to the nearby pharmacy along with your prescription and they will produce a finished product.
How much do they cost? The cost for autologous serum eye drops varies by the amount of blood drawn and the number of bottles produced from the sample. In general, the pharmacy charges $15 per 5 milliliter bottle of drops, and the fee for the blood draw is about $50. A typical draw will deliver anywhere from 6 – 8 bottles, so figure on about $140 for the entire process. That should produce enough drops to last 4 – 6 months.
When will I know if they’re working? Everyone is different, but for those patients who experience relief using autologous serum eye drops it is usually seen within the first few weeks.