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  • Writer's pictureDr Anne Malatt

What are Autologous Serum Eye Drops?

Updated: Apr 21

Autologous serum eye drops (ASEDs) are made from your own (autologous) blood. They are used to treat conditions where the surface of the eye is extremely dry due to damage, insufficient tear production or poor quality tears. ASEDs were first used in 1975 to treat patients whose eyes had been damaged by chemical burns.

ASEDs are very effective, well-tolerated and contain ingredients that support healthy growth and healing of the ocular surface, which artificial tears do not. Some of the ingredients in ASEDs that are found in natural tears but which aren’t available in artificial tears include: albumin, antibodies, Vitamin A, and epidermal growth factors which are important for healthy eyes. We are not exactly sure how or why ASEDs work, but it may be that the albumin in them creates a high quality protective tear film for the surface of the eyes.

ASEDs are not tear substitutes and can be used in conjunction with other treatments such as artificial tears and ointments if needed.

The effect may not be immediate, but most people notice an improvement in symptoms as soon as 2 weeks from beginning treatment with ASEDs.

What conditions do autologous serum eyedrops treat?

Examples of conditions that may benefit from autologous serum eyedrops include:

· dry eye syndrome

· Sjögren’s syndrome (an autoimmune condition causing dry eyes and dry mouth)

· certain types of corneal transplants or following laser vision correction procedures.

Are there any special requirements for the patient?

To be eligible for treatment, you need to meet certain criteria. Any condition where the surface of the eye is dry and tear replacement drops are not producing adequate relief of symptoms and protection of the eye may be considered for ASEDs treatment .

Autologous serum eyedrops are requested by an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) in consultation with the blood bank. In Australia, the drops are provided free of charge if you are deemed eligible to receive them.

How are autologous serum eyedrops made?

Autologous serum eyedrops are made from a donation of your blood. The blood is allowed to clot and the remaining clear yellow liquid portion (serum) is separated. The serum is diluted with saline, put into 1.5 mL vials and frozen. The blood is screened for bacterial and viral contamination before being given to the patient for use.

How are they stored and how long do they last?

The autologous serum eyedrops are stored in your home freezer below -15 °C. In the frozen state, autologous serum eyedrops have a shelf life of 12 months from the date the blood was collected.

How are autologous serum eyedrops used?

Each day a vial is thawed for use and needs to be kept refrigerated at all times. It can be used repeatedly for up to 24 hours, and then must be thrown away. The dose and frequency of the eyedrops is determined by your ophthalmologist.

What care needs to be taken when using the eyedrops?

Autologous serum eyedrops do not contain any preservatives and so there is a small chance of bacterial contamination which may cause irritation, inflammation and rarely, infection. It is therefore important that storage and handling directions are very carefully followed. There is no risk of you developing a reaction to the serum itself, as it comes from your own blood.

If you have any further questions, please ask your eye doctor.


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