• COVID-19
  • Biosimilars
  • Cataract Therapeutics
  • DME
  • Gene Therapy
  • Workplace
  • Ptosis
  • Optic Relief
  • Imaging
  • Geographic Atrophy
  • AMD
  • Presbyopia
  • Ocular Surface Disease
  • Practice Management
  • Pediatrics
  • Surgery
  • Therapeutics
  • Optometry
  • Retina
  • Cataract
  • Pharmacy
  • IOL
  • Dry Eye
  • Understanding Antibiotic Resistance
  • Refractive
  • Cornea
  • Glaucoma
  • OCT
  • Ocular Allergy
  • Clinical Diagnosis
  • Technology

More than meets the eye: Researchers uncover the microbial secrets of dry eye


According to researchers, insights into the ocular microbiome could have implications beyond eye health.

(Image credit: Adobe Stock)

(Image credit: Adobe Stock)

A team of researchers have used advanced sequencing technology to determine how the mix of microbes present in patients with healthy eyes differs from the mix found in patients with dry eye.

According to an American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) news release, the new work could lead to improved treatments for various eye problems and for diseases affecting other parts of the body.

Microbial communities in and on the human body — referred to as the human microbiota — play an essential role in keeping us healthy. Although many studies have focused on microbial communities in our gut, understanding the microbiota present in other body sites is critical for advancing our knowledge of human health and developing targeted interventions for disease prevention and treatment.1

Alexandra Van Kley, PhD, a professor at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, is the research team leader.

“Once we understand the eye microbiota properly, it will improve disease diagnosis at an early stage,” Van Kley said in the news release. “This knowledge can also serve as a catalyst for developing innovative therapies aimed at preventing and treating ocular disease as well as those that affect the central microbiome site: the gut.”

Pallavi Sharma, a graduate student in Van Kley’s lab, presented the data last month at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, held in San Antonio, Texas.

Sharma explained that microbiome research suggests a strong connection between the gut microbiome and the brain and eyes.

“Any alteration in the gut microbiome affects other organs and can lead to disease,” Sharma said in the news release. “Therefore, we are trying to identify patterns of an imbalance between the types of microbes present in a person's ocular microbiome for people with different health problems.”

For the study, the researchers collected eye samples from 30 volunteers using a swab and then performed 16S rRNA sequencing and bioinformatic analysis to determine the microbiome distribution for patients with healthy eyes and those with dry eyes.1

According to researchers, the analysis showed that Streptococcus and Pedobacter bacteria species were the most prevalent microbes in healthy eyes while more Acinetobacter species were present in the eye microbiomes of people with dry eye.

“We think the metabolites produced by these bacteria are responsible for dry eye conditions,” Sharma concluded in the news release. “We are performing further research to understand the metabolic pathways associated with the Acinetobacter to better understand the disease.”

According to researchers, the next step is to explore the gut microbiome of the patients with dry eye to better understand how it is linked to the eye microbe differences they witnessed.

1. More than meets the eye: Researchers uncover the microbial secrets of dry eye. EurekAlert! Accessed April 15, 2024. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/1037703
Related Videos
Video 3 - "Approaching Asymptomatic Cases with Risk Factors"
Video 2 - "Do Dry Eye Diagnostics Change the Management of Dry Eye?"
Andrew Pucker, OD, PhD
Video 1 - "Challenging the Definition of Dry Eye- Interpreting Diagnostic Tests"
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.