Visions of Eye Commensals: The Known and the Unknown About How the Microbiome Affects Eye Disease.
Until recently, the ocular surface is thought by many to be sterile and devoid of living microbes. It is now becoming clear that this may not be the case. Recent and sophisticated PCR analyses have shown that microbial DNA-based "signatures" are present within various ethnic, geographic, and contact lens wearing communities. Furthermore, using a mouse model of ocular surface disease, we have shown that the microbe, Corynebacterium mastitidis (C. mast), can stably colonize the ocular mucosa and that a causal relationship exists between ocular C. mast colonization and beneficial local immunity. While this constitutes proof-of-concept that a bona fide ocular microbiome that tunes immunity can exist at the ocular surface, there remain numerous unanswered questions to be addressed before microbiome-modulating therapies may be successfully developed. Here, the authors will briefly outline what is currently known about the local ocular microbiome as well as microbiomes associated with other sites, and how those sites may play a role in ocular surface immunity. Understanding how commensal microbes affect the ocular surface immune homeostasis has the potential revolutionize how we think about treating ocular surface disease.
Bioessays. 2018 Nov;40(11):e1800046. doi: 10.1002/bies.201800046. Epub 2018 Oct 5.