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Serum tears.

My dry eye has gotten much worse lately so I asked my doctor about serum tears - he was totally on board and said it was the right next step. I left his office feeling so positive about my new treatment option.

If you're not familiar with autologous serum tears (AST) for dry eye, this is a helpful article: https://chronicdryeye.net/regenerative-drops

Then I got the call from the pharmacy. First off, the pharmacy is 1 hour and 15 minutes from my home. I struggle to drive because of my dry eye and my autoimmune conditions. Oh, and there's no way I can take my two young boys with me for this, so I'd have to arrange a sitter.

Then came the costs. About $30 for the blood draw, then around $250 for a 45 day supply of the tears. And if I can't stick around for the many hours it takes to prepare the drops, or return the next day, it's about $50 for overnight shipping. Plus the cost of gas and a sitter.

I asked about getting insurance coverage - explaining that I have great insurance and I've won many battles with them about covering treatments and would like to give it a try. The woman, rather uncompassionately, told me "there's no billing code for your blood."

So I am a bit discouraged. I did find a company, Vital Tears, that will come to my home for the blood draw and has a comparable cost. But I also learned that these serum tears must be frozen and I'm concerned about how I will apply them 4x a day when I'm often out and about with my kids. I don't want to waste them since they have a rather precise expiration date.

My point is that I've heard so many good things about serum tears (and read several experiences on this website) but I did not realize there were so many obstacles to getting them and using them. Has anyone successfully gotten insurance coverage for them?

If I don't get my dry eye under control I'm afraid my inflammatory lesions and/or corneal ulcer will return. I've tried many, many other treatments before getting to this point. Yesterday I couldn't even walk through the grocery store without applying eye drops because slow walking generated too much air flow for me to handle.

I am discouraged that it's so hard and expensive to get this problem under control. It affects my quality of life so severely and I'm shocked that my only option for relief at the moment seems to be spending a lot of money that I don't easily have.

Thanks for reading about my experience trying to get serum tears, any feedback is appreciated!

  1. I feel for you! I have been told that serum tears would be the next step for me, so I was interested to read about your situation. I'm in Australia, so our costing and insurance cover would be different, but I must investigate it for the future. If there is a community member who has found a way around these cost issues and the supply and usage issues, I hope they will respond to you. Warm wishes, Wendy, Advocate.

    1. yes, the serum tears were mentioned because my current treatment plan is not proving to be the whole answer. I think the optometrist mentioned them to me because I must have looked unhappy with the way things were going. She wanted me to know that we hadn't reached the end of the treatment line! The trials on blood from healthy young people sound like a good idea. At my age, my own blood has been through a lot! Wendy, Advocate.

    2. it's reassuring to know there are further treatments available. I think our eyes would appreciate any blood serum (since there are no blood vessels in the cornea) but some may be better than others 😀 Thanks! -Ava, CDE team

  2. Ava, I’ve been using serum tears for several months now. The Wolfe Clinic in Iowa, prepares them at their own facility. It’s about 100 mile drive for us, but I get 5x15ml vials at a time($200), so,it’s been worth it to me. I can store the frozen for up to 4 months at a time. Thaw in refrigerator overnight for use the next day. . Seems to be beneficial, when added to the daily routines.

    1. what exactly are serum tests?

    2. I'm attaching a link to an article on serum tears written by one of our Advocates, Erica, who has used them. https://chronicdryeye.net/living/autologous-serum-tears Best wishes, Wendy, Patient Leader.

  3. Have you asked your eye doctor about Oxervate?

    1. thanks for sharing your success using PRP eye drops. It would be wonderful if insurance would cover them in full. Best wishes, Sharon Moore patient leader

    2. I was just reading more about this medication. So you just try it once or would you do a repeat if you needed it again in the future? Thanks for sharing the FB group info! I'm sure that could be tough to deal with side effects for eight weeks but good to know that it stops and sounds like it may be worth it for the possible benefits. Thanks again for sharing your experience!


      I read that it can help with corneal defects so definitely a good reason to bring it up to my doctor. I have good insurance (and I meet my deductible every year anyway) so as long as I get get them to say yes then I'm good to go. It's good to know that they have a financial assistance program though.


      I also checked out platelet rich plasma (PRP) eye drops - I didn't realize there were variations of blood eye drops. I wonder what the cost would be for PRP vs. serum drops - I'll have to check that out. You've shared a lot of valuable info here! Wishing you the best with the rest of your Oxervate treatment and eye health. -Ava, CDE team

  4. I’ve used serum drops about 2 years. They helped a lot at first but for the last 6 months I haven’t felt they have benefited me much. I still choose to use them because my doctor says they are so good your eyes. I pay $300 for a little over a 3 month supply and keep in my freezer. A compounding pharmacy in my town makes them and I go to local hospital to have my blood drawn. I just wish they worked as good as they used to…it may because my dry eye disease has progressed.

    1. that's frustrating. I know our bodies readjust and treatments can ebb and flow but it's so hard when symptoms regress. However, I have stopped treatments that I thought weren't helping much only to find out that they were actually helping a lot more than I though, so you're wise to stay on them in my opinion. I hope there can be something that helps you as much as the serum drops did. Thanks for sharing with me. -Ava, CDE team

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