If you have tried everything else for dry eye and have found no relief, there are some non-traditional and experimental treatment options available to you. This page will go into detail into some of these additional treatments as well as discuss clinical trials for dry eye.
Regener Eyes drops are a biologic eye drop made from human placenta that claims to reduce inflammation in the eye. These drops are made from human amniotic membrane materials that are harvested when pregnant women give birth. The genetic material is sterilized and then turned into an eye drop.
According to the Regener Eyes website, the goal of the drop is to help regenerate the meibomian glands. The biologic nature of this drop and the use of human growth factors and proteins inside the drop make it an interesting option to try if you have tried everything else.
Like Regener Eyes, Prokera is made of amniotic membrane material, so it contains the human growth factors and proteins of the placenta to help your eye heal. Unlike Regener Eyes, however, Prokera is meant to act as a bandage on your eye to help with severe dry eye disease or other problems affecting the cornea.
The Prokera disk is placed in your eye by your eye doctor and will slowly begin to dissolve. As it dissolves, it releases the human growth factors and anti-inflammatory compounds that help to reduce inflammation and heal a damaged cornea. Because it sits on top of the eye it acts as a bandage that protects the eye while it heals. This option may be for you if you suffer from dry eye related pain that has been resistant to everything else.
The cost of Prokera seems to vary, but I found an article that seems to suggest a cost between $700 and $1500. It was not clear if that cost was per eye or for both eyes. It does look like if dry eye is severe enough some insurance may reimburse the cost of the Prokera treatment.
If you have tried everything else for your dry eye, you may want to consider enrolling in a clinical trial. Clinical trials are when new potential medications and treatments for dry eye are tested to ensure that they are safe and effective.
Clinical trials have risks associated with them as you are trying untested medications, but clinical trials may give you some benefits and also give the companies creating the new drugs valuable data that can help bring their new drugs to market. Clinical trials may also be a way to save money on dry eye treatment as typically all study related medications and doctor's visits are included free and you may even be paid for participating in the trial.
When you participate in a clinical trial, you may receive the study drug or you may receive an alternative drug or a placebo. Sometimes they want to see if drug x is more effective than drug y, so you may receive either drug x or drug y. Other times you may have a 50 / 50 or less chance of receiving the study medication or a placebo that is just saline solution. They do this to ensure that if they see improvements or side effects it is from the drug they are testing and not just due to random chance.
If you want to find a clinical trial, the best place to go is clinicaltrials.gov, a US Government website that lists clinical trials from around the world. To use the website, go to the homepage and find the search form. Then select the Recruting and Not Yet Recruiting Studies option on the form. Under Condition or Disease, type Dry Eye. Then use the location fields to limit results to your local area or nearest major city.
Once you find a trial you would like to participate in, you can contact the trial via the contact information listed on the trial's listing. Typically there will be a phone number or email address listed. You'll also want to make sure you meet the trial criteria listed on the trial listing page.
Typically once you hear back from someone the first step is giving the trial coordinator permission to pull your medical records so they can verify that you have dry eye disease and are a good fit for the trial. If you are accepted, then you will have visits with a study doctor where they will run tests as well as give you the study medication or treatment.
Clinical trials can be a lot of work and have risk, but may also offer good rewards and help bring new treatments to the market. If you're interested in learning more about clinical trials currently available for dry eye, check out clinicaltrials.gov as well as the All Dry Eye Blog, where we list new clinical trials for dry eye as we become aware of them.