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The role of microbial flora on the ocular surface

Miller, Darlene; Iovieno, Alfonso

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: October 2009 - Volume 9 - Issue 5 - p 466–470
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e3283303e1b
Eye allergy: Edited by Leonard Bielory and Stefano Bonini

Purpose of review Presence and interplay of microbial flora at the ocular surface reveal dynamic and evolving interactions with implications for both ocular surface health and disease. Data in this area are scarce or non-existent. The purpose of this review is to provide a snapshot of new and emerging developments in this area over the last 12 months.

Recent findings Recent findings signal potential roles for ocular surface microbial flora in both the preservation and extension of ocular surface health and in the initiation of new or escalation of common surface disorders. Contributions range from priming surface epithelial immune cells to regulating mucin composition and production. Other findings explore the emergent role of ocular microbial flora cross talk with pattern recognition receptors to protect and strengthen local and adaptive mucosal immunity while preserving vision.

Summary Deciphering the functional role of microbial communities at the ocular surface could bring new insights into and clarify the epidemiology and pathology of ocular surface dynamics in health and disease.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA

Correspondence to Darlene Miller, DHSc, MPH, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33101, USA Tel: +1 305 326 6034; e-mail:

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.