New dry eye drops made from patient's own blood

- Lorraine Maniscalco has been battling dry eyes for almost a decade. Her problem was so bad, her eyelid became stuck to her cornea three times, which affected her her vision. 

"I'd see halos, and I'm constantly blinking to see if I clear those halos," she explained. 

After trying a prescription medication, two procedures and every over-the-counter drop available, a new kind of drops - three times a day - finally give her relief.

"Before, it felt like I had sand in my eyes all the time, and after two weeks with the drops, the only way I can describe it is, you run your hand over a piece of silk," she says.

The new drops are quite unique. They're made from Lorraine's own blood. 

Here's how it works: blood is collected and spun down, creating platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Then it's off to Carrollwood Compounding Lab in Tampa, where her personalized PRP drops are created and placed in tiny vials, and then frozen.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Adam Scheiner has been offering the treatment for four months.

"This is more like their own tears. In fact, it's a little souped-up because we actually have growth factors that tell the body's stem cells to come heal the eye," Dr. Scheiner explained.

Dry eye, however, can also be caused by too little oil in the eye.

That was the case for Diane Levine, whose problem stemmed from rosacea and abnormal blood vessels lining the margins of her eyes. The former journalist said, when her problem began, her primary care doctor thought it was pink eye. 

"Very red, red all the time, as if I'd been crying," she remembered. 

"The redness, when it happens on the face, it actually closes the glands in the eyelid that make that oil. That oil's critical to preventing the tears from evaporating too quickly,"  Dr. Scheiner explained.

To treat Diane, Dr. Scheiner used a specialized laser. 

"When done on the eyelid, it can close the blood vessels on the eyelid that are affecting oil production, and it's amazing because, when we do that, the oil can flow more freely," he said.

Although Dr. Scheiner is trying to get insurance companies cover the new treatments, for now it is an out-of-pocket expense. The cost for the drops is $350 for a 45 day supply. The eyelid treatments cost $200, and most people need only two.  

It's a price Lorraine and Diane believe was worth it.

"After two weeks, I really saw a difference and felt a difference," Diane said, adding she is now on her second set of drops. "I can drive at night without any problem. I'm not rubbing my eyes anymore, just made a big difference."

For more information about dry eye conditions, visit https://nei.nih.gov/health/dryeye/dryeye

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