Researchers at Moorfields Eye Hospital recently taught a group of 16 dry eye patients how to safely take out a few drops of blood from their fingertips with a lancet and squirt drops in their eyes. Doctors instructed participants to put a drop of this blood in their lower eyes four times a day for eight weeks.
At the end of eight weeks, eye doctors found that the dry eye patients had a significant reduction in symptoms. They also found that damage to the cornea was greatly reduced using this therapy.
Anant Sharma, a consultant ophthalmologist who works at Moorfields Eye Centre's Bedford Hospital, said that this inexpensive therapy could be a "game changer" in how doctors think about treating dry eye syndrome. Dr. Sharma told reporters that early results from this study "suggest [blood drops are] effective with excellent results and no serious side effects."
Eye doctors have known about the healing benefits of blood on the eyes for a long time now. Blood actually has many of the same nutrients in healthy tears.
This blood drop therapy is not exactly new in professional eye care. Popular British optometrist Nick Dash pointed out that eye doctors often prescribe autologous serum eye drops to patients. "Autologous" means "from the donor," which generally refers a patient's blood sample.
Autologous serum eye drops combine a person's unique blood sample with other nutrients found in normal tears. Patients apply these drops to their eyes every day according to their ophthalmologist's specifications.
Doctors at Moorfields want to move forward with this research to see the long-term effects of blood eye drops. They are now planning a large randomized longitudinal study. A few doctors at Moorfields are interested in whether these blood drops could ward off conditions like corneal erosion syndrome and corneal ulcers.
Dry eye syndrome is the number one reason people visit ophthalmologists nowadays. A few symptoms associated with this common disorder include eye itchiness, red eyes, and eye stinging.
A few ways dry eye sufferers find relief from their symptoms are by using artificial tears, getting more natural sunlight, and increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. Also, it's important for dry eye patients to limit the amount of time they spend staring at computer screens.
Contact lens wearers suffer from dry eye syndrome more often than non-contacts wearers. Contacts both reduce the amount of oxygen that's able to get into the cornea and disrupt the eyes natural tear production. People with dry eyes who also wear contacts are encouraged to switch to daily disposable lenses or ask their optometrist about special contact lenses specifically designed to increase eye wetability.
While it might be tempting for dry eye patients to try this blood drop therapy on their own, please remember that this research is only in the beginning stages. Always talk with your eye doctor about your dry eye issues rather than trying to self-medicate.
Anyone interested in this study can check out the full report in the June 16th, 2017 edition of Eye. This clinical trial is listed under the title "Fingerprick autologous blood: a novel treatment for dry eye syndrome."