The role of microbial flora on the ocular surface

Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Oct;9(5):466-70. doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e3283303e1b.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / pathology
  • Bacterial Infections / physiopathology
  • Cell Communication / immunology
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / complications
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / immunology*
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / microbiology
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / pathology
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Eye / immunology*
  • Eye / microbiology
  • Eye / pathology
  • Eye Neoplasms / complications
  • Eye Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Eye Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Eye Neoplasms / pathology
  • Eye Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Immunization
  • Mucins / immunology
  • Mucins / metabolism
  • Toll-Like Receptors / immunology


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Mucins
  • Toll-Like Receptors