The closed eye harbors a unique microbiome in dry eye disease

MedRxiv : the Preprint Server for Health Sciences
Kent A WillisC. V. Lal


Dry eye affects millions of individuals. In experimental models, dry eye disease is associated with T helper cell 17-mediated inflammation of the ocular surface that may cause persistent damage to the corneal epithelium. However, the initiating and perpetuating factors associated with chronic inflammation of the ocular surface remain unclear. The ocular microbiota alters ocular surface inflammation and may influence dry eye disease development and progression. Here, we collected serial samples of closed eye tears during a randomized clinical trial of a non-pharmaceutical dry eye therapy and used 16S rRNA metabarcoding to characterize the microbiome. We show the closed dry eye microbiome is distinct from the healthy closed eye microbiome. The ocular microbiome was described only recently, and this report implicates a distinct microbiome in ocular disease development. Our findings suggest an interplay between microbial commensals and inflammation on the ocular surface. This information may inform future studies of the pathophysiological mechanisms of dry eye disease.

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