Autologous Serum Eye Drops
Your Blood, Your Tears… No Sweat!
Your tears are complex in nature and crucial to eye health. Unfortunately, patients with severe dry 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 TearWell, 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? TearWell has contracted with a local Memphis-based laboratory and compounding pharmacy to easily and efficiently draw your blood and process it into usable eye drops in the same day. After the blood sample is obtained, you transport it to the nearby pharmacy along with your prescription and they will produce a finished product within two hours.
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 $25 per 3.5 milliliter droptainer, and the fee for the blood draw is a mere $10. A typical draw will deliver anywhere from 6 – 8 bottles, the minimum order is $125 or 5 droptainers. That should produce enough drops to last 1 to 3 months. Each droptainer contains enough drops for 1 week and it should be discarded 7 days after opening.
Be sure to hydrate well before your scheduled blood draw to ensure the maximum amount of plasma can be obtained to compound the serum.
Will my insurance cover the cost? Insurance will probably not pay for serum eye drops any more than they pay for artificial tears. However, we will happily submit a letter of medical necessity on your behalf if you wish to challenge the claim.
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.