Purpose: To analyze the conjunctival flora of individuals 21 years of age or less for fungi using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methodology.
Methods: Before povidone-iodine antisepsis, eye-swab specimens were collected from adolescent corneal donors preceding corneal excision and from children during preparation for strabismus surgery. Nucleic acid was extracted from the specimens and analyzed by PCR using primers designed for the detection of broad-spectrum fungal DNA and of Candida albicans-specific DNA.
Results: Twelve (38%) of 32 eye donor surfaces and 7 (23%) of 30 patient samples were positive for fungal DNA (P = 0.1). C. albicans DNA was detected in 6 (19%) of the decedents' eyes but from none of the surgical patients (P = 0.04).
Conclusions: Fungi were present on the normal ocular surface of children and adolescents. C. albicans was more likely to be found postmortem than pre-surgically.