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Published on February 23, 2016

Personalized Drops Offer a New Solution for Dry Eyes

MU Health Care’s Mason Eye Institute offers custom eye drops for improved relief

People with severe dry eyes will see an average of five physicians before they find relief, according to experts at University of Missouri Health Care. MU Health Care is the only provider in mid-Missouri to offer patients a new solution — one personalized to their eyes.



“Artificial tears are a short-term fix, and many people with dry eyes need a better option,” said Frederick Fraunfelder, MD, director of MU Health Care’s Mason Eye Institute and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the MU School of Medicine. “With new autologous serum eye drops, which are made from properties found in a patient’s own blood, patients can get long-lasting relief without the irritation often associated with eye drops.”

Eyes naturally become drier with age, though individuals with conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or Sjögren’s syndrome, or people who take antihistamines or blood pressure medicine, are more prone to developing dry eyes. Dryness causes discomfort, and if left untreated, can result in ulcers, or craters, on the eye. If infected, these ulcers could cause vision loss.

“Dry eyes can be a temporary or chronic condition, but they aren’t something to be ignored,” Fraunfelder said. “After a simple blood draw at any one of our labs, we deliver the patient’s blood to Saving Sight, a local eye bank, where they extract the viscous serum from the blood. This serum is then mixed with a saline solution and delivered to the patient, usually in less than a week from their blood draw. The results are tremendous, and these really are the ultimate in personalized eye care.”

A supply of autologous serum eye drops generally lasts a patient two to three months, depending on the severity of their dry eyes. Because they are preservative-free, the drops must be stored frozen. Once thawed, the drops last one week and should be refrigerated when not in immediate use.

“These drops can be life changing,” said Anthony Grillo, MD, a corneal fellow at the Mason Eye Institute. “The serum in your blood contains several proteins and lubricants, and research shows there are many benefits from using the serum. Because the drops are made using a patient’s own blood serum, there are no risks of side effects or irritation. The drops work amazingly well and really soothe and even help heal the eyes over time.”

As part of its mission to save sight, Saving Sight works with physicians to provide autologous serum eye drops to patients throughout Missouri.

For more information about autologous serum eye drops or to schedule an appointment, please call the Mason Eye Institute at 573-882-1506.

Click here for a high-resolution portrait of Frederick Fraunfelder, MD.