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What are Autologous Serum Eye Drops?
Autologous serum eye drops are often requested when patients have not had success with various medications for chronic dry eyes. Their own serum is used to make their eyedrops.
The meaning of autologous is 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 usage. Because they are non-preserved, the drops are stored in the freezer until you need them.
Once I have a prescription, what is the process of getting autologous serum eye drops?
Blood can be drawn at:
John Theurer Cancer Center
Scheduling: (551) 996-5184
Patients will need to bring the following:
• Copy of recent comprehensive blood tests for Hep B (HBsAg & HBsAb & HBcAb), Hep C, and HIV
Note: Tests must be from current calendar year.
• Physicians’ prescription for the Autologous Serum eye drops
• Full payment of $140 by credit card or check for the blood drawing service
Once blood has been drawn it is the patient’s responsibility to bring, or have their physician fax a prescription for Autologous Serum eye drops, as well as copies of above mentioned blood tests.
At the blood collection facility:
- Medical assistant will draw blood sample with proper labeling
- Sample will be sent to HUMC Blood Lab for processing
- Blood serum will be processed prior to being frozen and stored in freezer
- HUMC Blood Lab will call Town & Country Compounding and arrange for our courier to pick up the frozen serum for further processing in our sterile lab
The Most Advanced Techniques
- Upon receipt of the frozen serum, our staff will contact the patient to schedule and arrange for pick up,
delivery by courier or overnight shipment.
- When ready to compound, our sterile compounding technicians will allow it to defrost in a controlled sterile environment.
- The serum will then be aseptically compounded into eye drops in our ISO class 6 Isolated Clean Room in an advanced laminar flow hood.
- Eye drops will be made into 100% concentration, or as prescribed by your physician.
- Town & Country Compounding aseptically filters the
serum and transfers the serum into dropper bottles for patient use.
If sufficient serum (45 mL or more) is supplied by the lab we will supply 30 vials containing 1.5 mL each. This is approximately a 3 month supply.
How the Serum is Made
Upon receipt of the frozen serum, the sterile pharmacists will allow it to defrost in a controlled environment. Once defrosted the serum will be aseptically processed into eye drops in our ISO class 6 Isolated Clean Room in an advanced laminar flow hood. Eye drops will be 100% concentration, or as prescribed by your physician.
Town and Country Compounding aseptically filters the serum and transfers the serum into dropper bottles for use. If sufficient serum (48 mL or more) is supplied by the lab we will typically supply 12 vials containing 4 mL each. This is approximately a 3 month supply.
How Autologous Serums Work
Conventional therapies for severe dry eyes fail to heal the epithelial cells, which are the cells on the top layer of the cornea. The dry epithelial cells sometimes fall off of the cornea easily. Autologous serum comes from the patient’s own blood serum and plasma (Source: clevelandclinic.org).
The fluid contains epithelium-promoting growth factors and becomes a good replacement for tears.
Sjogren’s syndrome is an inflammatory condition in which the mucous membranes, especially in the nose and mouth become very dry. Sometimes you will see this in patients who have rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Autologous serum eyedrops (ASED) are thought to contain various growth factors and nutrients from the serum that may benefit the surface of the eye and may help with corneal epithelial defects. Serum contains albumin, vitamin A, and nerve and epidermal growth factors that may promote healthy growth and healing of the ocular surface. These nutrients are not in over-the-counter artificial tears preparations.
They are sometimes used by doctors with patients with neuropathic eye pain, keratitis and may also be used before and after certain high-risk corneal transplants and SLET procedures, or for post-vitrectomy diabetics.