Several blood derivatives have been proposed for the treatment of various ocular diseases that affect either the anterior or the posterior segment of the eye. Blood sources may range from the patient’s own peripheral blood (autologous) to donor tissues, mainly allogeneic peripheral blood and umbilical cord blood (UCB). The utilization of the latter permits the collection of a large amount of serum all at once, and is characterized by therapeutic feasibility in patients with a poor general condition or anemia and blood dyscrasia. Products derived from UCB have two potential uses. First, serum in the form of eye drops can be applied topically onto the ocular surface to efficiently treat anterior segment disorders such as dry eye syndrome or corneal epithelial defects with different etiologies. The rationale for and efficacy of this application derive from the high concentrations of biologically active components and growth factors in UCB, which can nourish the ocular surface. Second, UCB is a source of stem cells, which are used in the field of regenerative medicine because they differentiate into various mature cells, including corneal and retinal cells. Therefore, UCB-derived stem cells have been proposed as a replacement therapy for the treatment of retinal and optic nerve diseases, given that current standard treatments often fail. The present review explores the clinical results that have been obtained using UCB-derived products in the field of ophthalmology, as well as the current limitations of those products in this field. Furthermore, given the promising development of UCB-based therapies, possible future directions in this area are discussed.
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