Purpose: To assess for differences in the ocular flora of patients with dry eye caused by tear deficiency and/or meibomian gland disease and to assess the effect of antibacterial honey on the ocular flora in these forms of dry eye.
Methods: In this prospective, open-label pilot study, bacteria isolated from the eyelid margin and conjunctiva were identified and quantified before and at 1 and 3 months after initiation of treatment with topical application of antibacterial honey 3 times daily. Subjects had non-Sjogren tear deficiency (n = 20), Sjogren syndrome tear deficiency (n = 11), meibomian gland disease (n = 15), and non-Sjogren tear deficiency with meibomian gland disease (n = 20), and there were 18 non-dry eye subjects.
Results: The total colony-forming units (CFUs) isolated from each of the dry eye subgroups before antibacterial honey use was significantly greater than the total CFU isolated from the non-dry eye group. Antibacterial honey use significantly reduced total CFUs for the eyelids and the conjunctiva of dry eye subjects from baseline at month 1 (eyelids: P = 0.0177, conjunctiva: P = 0.0022) and month 3 (eyelids: P < 0.0001, conjunctiva: P < 0.0001). At month 3, there were reductions in total CFUs for all dry eye subgroups such that the CFUs were not significantly different from those of the non-dry eye group.
Conclusion: From these results, there is sufficient preliminary data to warrant further study of the effects of antibacterial honey in chronic ocular surface diseases.