Autologous serum eyedrops (“ASEDs”) are made by drawing the patient’s own blood and using the serum to create eye drops. ASEDs are administered for a wide range of ocular surface disease.
Health Canada considers autologous cell therapy products to meet the definition of “drug.” ASEDs are a drug which is not on the list of those that optometrists are permitted to prescribe (ASEDs do not appear on Schedule 1 of Ontario Regulation 112/11). Additionally, medical laboratory technologists and employees of licensed laboratories and specimen collection centres are not permitted to draw blood on optometrists’ orders. Therefore, optometrists are not currently authorized to prescribe or order ASEDs in Ontario.
OPR 7.11 Patients with Dry Eye Disease states that treatment of Dry Eye Disease (DED) involves a staged, step-wise approach that includes but is not limited to the: use of non-prescription lubricating agents (artificial tears) of varying viscosities (solutions, emulsions, gels, and ointments) and/or osmolarities, including consideration of preserved versus non-preserved products (including autologous serum tears) and the component of the natural tear layer deemed most deficient. Optometrists may therefore discuss ASEDs with patients but refer to ophthalmology for prescriptions. Optometrists can also collaborate with the patient’s family physician to have the serum ordered.