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Eye Drops Made From Patient's Blood Treat Dry Eye

A breakthrough alternative in the treatment of patients with severe dry eye is now available in the Ozarks. KSMU's Jennifer Moore reports.

When Dr. Shachar Tauber, an opthamologist with St. John's Clinic, came to Springfield from the East Coast, he found that some of his patients with severe dry eye were not responding to traditional eye drops.

Some patients were in serious pain and could not even keep their eyes open.

So, Dr. Tauber proposed introducing an alternative treatment: autologous serum eye drops, custom-made from the patient's own blood. So far, he has treated dozens of patients and says the results have been impressive.

The patient gives six vials of blood, which are then placed in a centrifuge to spin for 20 minutes.

As the blood spins, the red blood cells drop to the bottom because they are heavier, and the prized ingredient--the serum--rises to the top.

The serum is mixed with artificial tears and must be taken six to eight times a day. Autologous serum eye drops are not approved by the FDA, because the treatment is seen as a procedure instead of a medicine. It's also not covered by most insurance providers, and the eye drops require special handling and care.

Dr. Tauber's colleague in Japan discovered autologous serum eye drops by accident several years ago.

Currently, about 30 patients are using the eye drops in the Ozarks.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore in Springfield.