My Experience with Autologous Serum Tears
My doctor recently diagnosed me with corneal neuralgia and prescribed autologous serum tears as treatment.
Autologous serum tears are drops made from a patient’s own blood, and they help to regenerate and heal the corneal nerves. Autologous refers to cells or tissues “obtained from the same individual.” Serum is blood which has been separated from red blood cells to remove the clotting factors.
Putting my own blood in my eyes
So yes, I am putting my own blood in my eyes. Strange, I know. I’ve already come up with all of the expected, self-deprecating jokes that would go along with using these tears: Yes, I’m basically a vampire…No, I’m not going to bite you.
Once my family, friends, and coworkers get past their initial shock when I tell them that I put blood drops in my eyes, I am able to fully explain how amazing this concept is and how similar it is to the work that stem cells can do in healing.
The drops are not that scary
People initially imagine red blood dripping horrifically from my eyes, but once they see the drops, they realize that they are not that scary. The serum is diluted with saline, and they are yellowish clear in color.
The process of getting the drops made was relatively simple. I used the company Vital Tears. Since I did not live near one of the company’s blood draw locations, a mobile phlebotomist came to my home and drew enough blood to fill several vials while I relaxed in my recliner. (Prior to her visit, I had received a kit with the vials, a cooler, and freezer packs.)
Afterward, she put the vials in the cooler, along with the freezer packs that I had frozen, and she shipped the package to the company that day. About two or three days later, I received a six-month supply of drops in the mail.
Storing and using the drops
I store the drops in the freezer until I am ready to use them. Then, I move them to the refrigerator, where they will last for about seven days. My drops are 20% serum and 80% saline, and I use them four times a day. Because they require refrigeration, I have to plan how to keep them cold when I go to work or go on trips. I purchased an insulin protector kit from Amazon, which included two freezer packs that can keep my drops cold for up to 16 hours.
The drops feel cool and soothing to my eyes when I initially put them in. They really don’t provide lasting lubrication, though, so sometimes I have to chase them with preservative-free lubricating drops a few minutes later.
I have been using serum tears for at least three months now, as of my writing this, and my eyes have slowly improved since I first began. My eye pain, irritation, and sensitivity to light have all decreased. Therefore, I do believe that my diagnosis of corneal neuralgia was accurate.
I plan on following up with my doctor so that he can advise me on my next steps. At this point, as of my writing this, I’m not quite sure how long I will be on the drops or how long they will take to produce their full results. I’ve read from other people’s experiences that the sooner patients start on serum tears, the greater their chances are of full recovery from corneal neuralgia.
I’ve also read that the tears’ effectiveness generally takes an amount of time equal to the period that a person’s eyes were in distress. For me, as of my writing this, that has been several months. As I wait for continued healing, I’m choosing to think optimistically about my results.
Have you ever canceled travel plans due to dry eye?