Serum isolated from blood can be made into eye drops for people with severe dry eye syndrome, a condition which affects over seven percent of Australians. Serum eye drops are also used to treat non-healing corneal ulcers and for patients recovering from LASIK surgery.
Current treatment options for dry eye syndrome include the use of artificial tears, anti-inflammatory agents, and strategies such as special glasses to keep the eyes moist. The use of serum as a substitute for natural tears came about because serum in blood contains similar nutrients to those found in tears, including growth factors and vitamins.
Over the last few years, the Blood Service has been manufacturing eye drops for patients made from their own serum, packaged into single use tubing that they can freeze and keep at home for a year. Information collected by the Blood Service and other researchers around the world has shown that they are safe and effective in reducing the symptoms of severe dry eye syndrome and other eye disorders.
Despite this effective treatment, many patients suffering from these eye disorders are unable to make a successful blood donation for medical reasons (such as diabetes, heart disease or general frailty). Currently, these patients do not have the option of using serum eye drops made from their own blood, but a new trial planned by the Blood Service may change that.
The Blood Service is now planning a trial of serum eye drops made from serum collected from our voluntary donors, known as allogeneic eye drops. The trial will measure the safety and effectiveness of serum eye drops made from donor serum, in up to 100 patients. If the trial is successful, it will pave the way for a regulatory application to enable the Blood Service to manufacture serum eye drops for general use in treating eye and corneal disorders.