We’ve known for some time that autologous serum – a blood product produced from your own blood by removing the red cells – can bring relief to dry eye sufferers. But this therapy is expensive and tedious and usually reserved for a last resort.
Now, a new study, recently published in Nature, has shown that whole blood – also called Fingertip Autologous Blood, or FAB – can bring about a marked improvement in symptoms. And without the mess or hefty price tag.
Latest clinical studies
In a small study conducted at the world-renowned Moorfield’s Eye Hospital in London, patients suffering from severe dry eye symptoms were instructed to apply a drop of blood from their fingertip to the eye 4 times a day over an 8-week period.
Test subjects were measured for a number of clinical markers before and after the 8-week period of administering the blood to their eyes. At each follow-up visit, measurements were taken of visual acuity as well as damage to the corneal surface, aqueous tear production, tear quality and comfort.
And the outcome? The results at 8 weeks were that all measurements were significantly improved except for the aqueous (watery) tear production.
Although this was a small, relatively short-term study, results are promising and further studies will be conducted to determine if FAB really is as good as this early study has shown. If so, it’s good news for the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer daily with the debilitating symptoms of this disease.
How does the treatment work?
Blood contains nutrients and vitamins that are also present in our tears. In a healthy tear film, micronutrients and vitamins nourish and repair the cells of the eye’s surface. But in moderate to severe dry eye disease, the tears can change their constituents and end up with inflammatory cells taking over. Blood similarly contains these micronutrients and can be used to boost these factors lacking in the tear film of dry-eye patients.
How do I use fingertip autologous blood in my eyes?
The eye is an almost sterile environment, so it is important not to introduce and pathogens into it during fingertip autologous blood therapy. The hands must be scrupulously cleaned.
It has been scientifically proven that the longer you wash your hands for, the cleaner they are. A 15-second scrub is fine for regular everyday use, but before touching your eyes, we recommend a 1-minute scrub. Alternatively, an antibacterial wipe or Betadine applied to a cotton pad can be used to swab the fingertip clean.
Drawing blood is a safe and hygienic process if a purpose-designed blood lancet is used. These are available in bulk packs for a reasonable cost. You must use a fresh lancet each time you prick your fingertip. (Needles, pins or other sharp objects should never be used as they are not sterile unless autoclaved).
Keep a record of the times you apply the blood to your eyes. After meals and bedtime are good reminders. The following procedure should be used:
- Thoroughly clean the hands and particularly the fingertip by washing or using Betadine etc.
- Using a fresh blood lancet, prick the fingertip so a droplet of blood appears
- Apply the fingertip immediately to the pocket inside your lower eyelid
- You can use another fingertip to gentle pull down the lower lid to open a space into which the blood can flow
- Hold the fingertip against the lower eyelid / white of your eye for several seconds
- Remove your finger and wash your hands
- You should not require a Band-Aid
- It is a good idea to alternate different fingertips each time, to avoid making one sore
IMPORTANT: This treatment should only be undertaken under the supervision of a dry eye practitioner as it is important to have the correct diagnosis and not miss other eye diseases that can cause symptoms of dryness.
Dry eyes ruining your life? Come and see the experts and reclaim your life. Call The Eye Practice on (02) 9290 1899 or make an appointment online today.