USING YOUR BLOOD TO TREAT DRY EYE DISEASE
By Dr. Mila Ioussifova, OD, FAAO
If you have been experiencing dry, irritated, and red eyes—especially since the pandemic—you are not alone! Although dry eye disease (DED) is already one of the most common eye disorders that eye doctors treat, a 2021 study published in the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics found that in people who switched to working remotely during the pandemic, a large number had an increase in eye strain symptoms, with over 28 percent experiencing severe DED. Researchers attributed this to their increased digital screen usage. Besides eye dryness and redness, DED can cause other symptoms like a gritty and sandy feeling, itchy or painful eyes, and even blurry vision. This condition can be simply annoying for some people and downright debilitating for others.
Patients suffering from DED are often frustrated with traditional treatments, which include artificial tears and prescription eye drops.
While these can be effective for people with occasional or mild dry eyes, they are usually insufficient for those with moderate or severe DED. That’s because while these options help to lubricate your eyes, they do not replace what is found in natural tears: critical substances like proteins, lipids, enzymes, vitamins, and growth factors. These biochemical molecules, especially growth factors, are important in corneal (front part of the eye) cell division and wound healing.
Here is the good news: you can get these healing molecules from your blood plasma—the clear liquid of your blood. At South Waterfront Eye Care, we have been making autologous (from the patient) serum eye drops to treat dry eye disease for years. This service is not offered by many clinics, so most patients have never heard of it, and accessibility is often limited. We have a convenient and straightforward process of drawing blood and making the drops within one hour.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a regenerative therapy used in all areas of medicine and aesthetics. And now we are using it for the eyes! PRP eye drops provide more concentrated growth factors and therefore healing properties. We see incredible results in corneal healing, pain reduction, and vision improvement in patients who have tried and failed with many other therapies for dry eye.
Our doctors treat DED as the multifactorial disease it is, approaching it with holistic and functional medicine solutions and assessing nutrition, gut health, and overall wellness. We address the underlying causes of dry eye, such as ocular rosacea, meibomian gland (eyelid glands) dysfunction, and blepharitis (eyelid inflammation and bacterial overgrowth) with highly effective treatments such as Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), Lipiflow Thermal Pulsation, Radiofrequency, Miboflow, and BlephEx.
Although DED is common, it is still an underdiagnosed and undertreated condition. Addressing the root cause and utilizing the regenerative powers of our biologics can be critical factors in treating this disease. I love that we now have so many options to offer our patients struggling with DED, and I never get tired of hearing patients say, “I am not using lubricating drops all day long anymore; I feel like I have my life back!”
SOUTH WATERFRONT EYE CARE
3615 S RIVER PARKWAY PORTLAND, OR 97239