Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dry Eye Treatment- Autologous Serum or Artificial Tears?

Eye Drop Photo
It has been estimated that at least 16 million people in the United States has dry eyes.  This number is only increasing due to long hours of computer use and the introduction of smart phones, video games.
The cheapest and most common dry eye treatment is artificial tears.  However, the preservatives in artificial tears can cause allergic reactions with severe side effects.  Non-preservative eye drops are available which are packaged in smaller disposable vials.  Non-preservative eye drops are more expensive.  The idea of using autologous serum as eye drop was introduced because it is a natural component to one's body, it too, must be used without preservatives.   Autologous serum drops are more expensive due to the processing and made into small sterile aliquots for use.

Autologous Serum Eye Drops for Dry Eye.
A research report recently compared the use of autologous serum drops versus artificial eye drops  This research study is based on databases from  Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  There are 5 groups included in this report based on 360 articles where autologous serum drops were used alone, or in combination with artificial tears.  This was then compared to artificial tears alone, placebo or no treatment. The research is based on comprehensive scientific databases using randomized controlled trials.

Based on the reported data from the studies, autologous serum drop was not associated with a significant improvement in tear volume (Schirmer's test), ocular surface integrity (fluorescein or Rose Bengal staining), or impression cytology compared to preservative-free artificial tears.  Autologous serum appears to be a safe treatment option for people with dry eye and may provide some benefit in improving participant reported symptoms in the short term (two weeks) but there is a lack of clear evidence to show that the application of autologous serum offers a significant therapeutic advantage over the use of preservative free artificial tears.

Autologous serum drops does seems to have a short term psychological advantage on participants reporting dry eye symptoms.  Long term it did not perform better than non-preservative eye drops.

For further information, go to  Ocular Surface News, Sept. 2013
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