Objective: To study the aerobic conjunctival flora of diabetic patients and its relation to the presence and level of diabetic retinopathy and the duration of the disease.
Methods: One hundred three patients from the diabetic retinopathy screening program of the Federal University of São Paulo with no evidence of ocular surface disease were included. The diabetic patient cohort was compared with 60 nondiabetic subjects. All patients underwent slit-lamp evaluation, conjunctival scrapings, and indirect ophthalmoscopy.
Results: The frequency of positive conjunctival cultures was significantly higher in the diabetic group (94.18%) than in the nondiabetic group (73.33%). Among diabetic patients, a significantly higher frequency of positive cultures was detected in those with diabetic retinopathy than in those without retinopathy. Neither the duration of the diabetes nor the hypoglycemic therapy correlated with the culture results. Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus was the most common microorganism isolated, and its identification was more frequent in patients with retinopathy than in those without diabetic retinopathy.
Conclusion: Diabetic patients have a significantly higher number of positive conjunctival cultures. The presence of diabetic retinopathy was correlated with an increase in positive cultures and a higher proportion of coagulase-negative Staphylococcus.