Aim: To determine the efficacy of using albumin tear supplements in the treatment of ocular surface disorders as a substitute for serum eye drops. Methods: The effects of albumin on the viability of serum deprived conjunctival cell were observed in vitro. The ability for albumin to compensate for serum was demonstrated by measuring the activity of the apoptosis related enzyme, caspase-3. In an animal study, corneal erosions were inflicted in 40 Japanese white rabbits. Rabbits were treated with 5% or 10% solutions of human albumin, and the decrease in epithelial defect size was compared with saline control and 0.3% sodium hyaluronate. A clinical case series trial of 5% albumin drops was conducted in nine patients with Sjögren's syndrome with severe dry eye. Results: The addition of albumin to serum deprived conjunctival cells inhibited caspase activity and increased cell viability, showing that albumin can compensate for some of the physiological properties of serum. Corneal erosions in rabbits healed significantly faster (p<0.05) in eyes treated with 10% albumin compared with control and sodium hyaluronate. Patients with Sjögren's syndrome used albumin drops showed statistically significant improvement in fluorescein and rose bengal scores, but not in tear break up time and subjective symptoms. No adverse effects of albumin were observed during the study. Conclusions: The use of albumin as a protein supplement in artificial tear solutions is a viable approach in the treatment of ocular surface disorders associated with tear deficiency.
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