Efficacy of autologous serum tears for treatment of neuropathic corneal pain

Shruti Aggarwal, C. Colon, A. Kheirkhah, Pedram Hamrah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Objective: Corneal nerve damage may result in neuropathic corneal pain (NCP). Autologous serum tears (AST) have been shown to results in nerve regeneration and may help alleviate corneal pain. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of AST in the treatment of NCP. Methods: This was a retrospective case-control study. Sixteen patients suffering from severe NCP and no current ocular surface disease were compared to 12 controls. In vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) (HRT3/RCM; Heidelberg Engineering GmbH, Germany) of the central corneas was performed bilaterally. Change in pain severity (scale of 0–10), corneal nerve density, tortuosity, reflectivity and presence of beading and micro-neuromas before and after treatment were recorded. Results: All patients had severe pain, with a mean of 9.1 ± 0.2 (range 8–10). Subbasal nerves were significantly decreased before treatment as compared to controls, including total nerve length (10,935.5 ± 1264.3 vs. 24,714.4 ± 1056.2 μm/mm2; p < 0.0001) and total number of nerves (10.5 ± 1.4 vs. 28.6 ± 2.0; p < 0.0001), respectively. Morphologically, significantly increased reflectivity (2.9 ± 0.2 vs. 1.2 ± 0.1; p = 0.00008) and tortuosity (2.4 ± 0.2 vs. 1.7 ± 0.1; p = 0.001), both graded on a scale of 0–4, were noted. After a mean of 3.8 ± 0.5 months (range 1–8 months) of AST treatment, pain severity decreased to 3.1 ± 0.3 (range 0–4), (p < 0.0001). Further, IVCM demonstrated a significant improvement (p < 0.005) in total nerve length (17,351.3 ± 1395.6 μm/mm2) and number (15.1 ± 1.6), as well as significant decrease in reflectivity (2.4 ± 0.2; p = 0.001) and tortuosity (2.2 ± 0.2; p = 0.001). Conclusion: IVCM demonstrates underlying alterations of the subbasal corneal nerve plexus in patients suffering from debilitating NCP. AST-induced nerve regeneration is seen following treatment with AST, which correlates with improvement in patient symptoms of NCP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)532-539
Number of pages8
JournalOcular Surface
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Autologous serum tears
  • Corneal allodynia
  • Corneal nerve regeneration
  • Corneal neuropathic pain
  • In vivo confocal microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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