Thursday, 26 June 2014

Visualizing the Ocular Microbiome

Researchers are beginning to study in depth the largely uncharted territory of the eye’s microbial composition. There is an interesting article in The Scientist on this subject.

The researchers also found that during keratitis infections—infections of the cornea—only about half as many bacterial varieties were present, most prominently Pseudomonas strains. The changes typically occurred well before a diagnosis of an eye infection, suggesting the ocular microbiome could inform future diagnostics, Shestopalov noted. His team is refining the algorithm for predicting infection based on these changes to the make-up of bacteria and the timing of these changes.

One factor that may be expected to impact the composition of the ocular flora is the use of contact lenses. Contact lens wear is one of the biggest factors leading to corneal infection. Common bacterial infections that can cause irritation and redness affect an estimated 7 percent to 25 percent of contact lens-wearers, and much rarer keratitis infections can even cause blindness. Researchers believe contact lenses make it easier for pathogens to colonize the surface of the eye by giving the bacteria something to adhere to. Sequencing biofilms from used contact lenses, Shestopalov’s team found evidence of microbial communities that were different from the ocular microbiomes of people who don’t use contacts. On the lenses themselves, the researchers have found much less diversity—many of the bacterial genera that dominate the conjunctiva and cornea were depleted. In their place, Staphylococcus dominated.

For further details see: The Scientist 

Posted by Tim Sandle