Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been around for decades, first gaining popularity in oral surgery and for soft tissue recovery after plastic surgery. More recently, PRP has been explored as a treatment option for patients who suffer from dry eyes. Dry eyes are a common problem brought on by environmental factors and, sometimes, medical conditions. Speaking with your primary care physician is the best way to evaluate the available treatment options for moderate and severe cases of dryness.
Understanding Dry Eyes
People often associate tears with crying, but tears are always present in the eyes as a form of natural lubrication. They are produced by the lacrimal glands, which are found under the bony ridge, over the upper, outer corner of the eye. When the eyes cannot produce enough tears or when the tears are not the right mixture of water, mucus, and fatty oils, the resulting dryness can cause stinging, redness, and sensitivity, in addition to vision problems. Tear production can suffer as a consequence of aging, laser eye surgery, certain medications, or medical conditions like arthritis, thyroid disorders, diabetes, vitamin-A deficiency, and others. Dry eyes cause significant discomfort and also make a person more susceptible to eye infections.
Conventional Treatment Options
Different treatment options exist for the range of various causes that lead to dry eyes. For relatively mild cases, eye drops work as artificial tears to moisturize and lubricate the eyes. When dry eyes are caused by allergies and environmental exposure like wind, it is possible to prevent dryness by limiting exposure to those sources of irritation. A doctor may prescribe stronger drops, ointments, or other forms of medication, including medicine to reduce eyelid inflammation or stimulate tear production. Lubricating eye inserts and special contact lenses are also available. For patients with severe cases, ophthalmologists may recommend closing the draining tear ducts or unblocking the ducts of the lacrimal glands. A specialist’s assessment is key to understanding each patient’s symptoms and likely causes for dryness.
What is PRP?
Blood is a mixture made up of a liquid, plasma, that contains red cells, white cells, and platelets. Platelets are well-known for their role in forming clots to stop bleeding, but they also contain proteins called growth factors, which facilitate healing. Through centrifugation, blood is separated into its various components, including the plasma with a higher concentration of platelets. In PRP, the concentration of platelets is often five times greater than the original concentration in the extracted blood. By using a patient’s own growth factors, our facility is able to produce custom eye drops that work more gently and with longer lasting effects than typical eye drop prescriptions. One aliquot in an eye dropper bottle may last over a month, and provides excellent natural relief for dry eyes. Our protocols at Spring of Youth Medical Group allow for convenient outpatient treatment of dry eyes with PRP.