Dry eye patients who put a drop of their own blood in their lower eye showed a significant improvement in symptoms, according to a new study published in the Eye.
Research led by Moorfields Eye Hospital involved 16 patients with severe dry eye syndrome being taught how to safely draw a small drop of blood from their finger using a lancet before applying it to their eye. The procedure was carried out four times a day for eight weeks.
The researchers report that damage to the eye surface was halved following the treatment, while the vision of patients improved.
Consultant ophthalmologist, Anant Sharma, who works at Moorfields Eye Centre at Bedford Hospital, told OT that the method was a “potential game changer” in the treatment of dry eye.
“It is simple, inexpensive and early results suggest it is effective with excellent results and no serious side effects,” he emphasised.
Blood contains similar nutrients to those found in tears that help to maintain and repair the cornea.
A larger randomised controlled study to assess the long-term safety of the method is being planned, Mr Sharma shared.
“We’re hopeful that it could benefit patients with other conditions that affect the front of the eye, such as ulcers, infections and corneal erosion syndrome,” he added.
Mr Sharma noted that while the results were promising, the study was still in its early stages.
Using blood as a treatment for symptoms should not be attempted without guidance from a medical professional, he emphasised.
Consultant optometrist Nick Dash, who is the 2017 British Contact Lens Association’s Dry Eye Practitioner of the Year, told OT that while the development is innovative, it is not revolutionary.
Autologous serum eye drops have previously been used to treat dry eye, he highlighted.
“Autologous means that the donor and the recipient are the same person. The eye drops are made from your own blood,” Mr Dash explained.
“This can then be formulated with 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. Blood and tears have similar osmolarity and pH so there is no issue of burning or stinging upon instillation,” he shared.