Eye Microbiome: Why Is It Important For Eye Health?

Since the discovery of the health benefits of microbiomes in the body, the scientific community has been exploring how they could help develop new treatments for diseases. The body’s natural collection of microbes plays a key role in keeping you healthy. 

Most studies commonly focus on the gut and skin. But scientists are just starting to explore the microbes living on the eyes. 

Eye microbiome affects our vision based on the microorganisms’ quantity. It is important to maintain balance since too much or too little could lead to a number of diseases. 

One study suggested that the right amount of bacteria on the surface of the eyes promotes protective immunity. Learning how to utilize the amount of microbes could help in the development of therapies for some eye disorders, like dry eye disease, Sjogren's syndrome and corneal scarring, Tony St. Leger, assistant professor of ophthalmology and immunology at the University of Pittsburgh, said in an article posted on The Conversation.

The Effects Of Antibiotics

St. Leger said that doctors should rethink prescribing antibiotics due to their potential impact on healthy microbiome on the eyes. Too much or inappropriate antibiotic use can damage good bacteria and increase the risk of having infection, autoimmunity and even cancer.

In 2016, St. Leger and partner Rachel Caspi, an ocular immunologist at the National Eye Institute, discovered that a resident bacterium on the eyes, called Corynebacterium mastitidis (C. mast), could trigger the production of antimicrobial factors that kill harmful microbes.

The presence of C. mast was found effective in preventing blindness. St. Leger said he hopes to exploit the bacterium to develop new therapies that could prevent infections and eye diseases.

Working with the University of Pittsburgh, St. Leger is exploring a method to encourage microbes to colonize the surface of the eyes. The team wants to genetically engineer healthy bacteria to act as long-term delivery vehicles to the surface of the eyes. 

“We hope that this new ‘prob-eye-otic’ therapy would act to secrete immune regulating factors, which would limit symptoms associated with conditions like Dry Eye Disease, which affects around four million people in the U.S. per year,” St. Leger said. 

Eyes It is important to eat a balanced diet to maintain eye-health. Pixabay