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Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Autologous serum eye drops for the treatment of severe dry eye in patients with chronic graft-versus-host disease


We investigated the efficacy and safety of autologous serum eye drops for the treatment of severe dry eye after allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (SCT). A total of 14 patients (four males and 10 females; median age, 31.0 years) with severe dry eye associated with chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) were enrolled in this study. All patients were refractory to treatment with conventional artificial tears. Autologous serum eye drops, a solution made of 20% autologous serum in sterile saline, were applied 10 times per eye per day. The patients were evaluated every 4 weeks according to visual acuity, corneal sensitivity, vital staining of the ocular surface, tear dynamics, and subjective assessments of symptoms (complaints scores). The median follow-up period was 19.4 months (range: 4–41 months). After 4 weeks of treatment, significant improvement was observed in both complaint scores (from 33.7±12.3 to 23.6±10.6 points; P<0.01) and fluorescein scores (from 5.8±2.0 to 2.4±0.9 points; P<0.005). Significant improvements were observed also in rose-bengal staining and tear break-up time. In seven of the 14 patients, the responses were maintained for 6–41 months (median:19.4±8.3 months), while six of the other seven patients required treatment with punctal plugs in addition to autologous serum eye drops. One of these other seven patients developed eczema around the eyelids, after which the treatment was discontinued. No serious adverse events were observed. We conclude that autologous serum eye drops are safe and effective for treating severe dry eye associated with cGVHD and that more efficient control of dry eye may be achieved by the combined use of autologous serum eye drops with punctal plugs.

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We thank the residents of the Department of Ophthalmology, Keio University School of Medicine, for preparing the artificial tears using autologous serum for the patients. This study was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology at ARVO 2001 in Fort Lauderdale in Florida, USA, and received ARVO/KOWA Travel Grantship Award.

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Ogawa, Y., Okamoto, S., Mori, T. et al. Autologous serum eye drops for the treatment of severe dry eye in patients with chronic graft-versus-host disease. Bone Marrow Transplant 31, 579–583 (2003).

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