Small drops of blood can be effective in relieving the symptoms of severe dry eye, according to new research carried out by a team at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Patients who were asked to apply a pricked and bleeding fingertip to their eyes four times a day reported significant improvements in their symptoms.

The study, publish in Eye, consisted of 16 patients and was the first to explore the use of whole blood as a substitute for tears. Researchers said nutrients found in blood were similar to the enzymes and vitamins in tears and aided the repair of cells.

Results showed that damage to the eye surface in participants was halved, along with a significant improvement in vision. Symptoms worsened when the treatment was stopped and improved again when it was re-started.

Anant Sharma, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Centre at Bedford Hospital and principal investigator for the study said: ‘This is a potential game changer in the treatment of dry eye. It is simple, inexpensive and early results suggest it is effective with excellent results and no serious side effects. We are planning a larger randomised controlled study to assess the long-term safety of the method.’