Scientists Show Good Bacteria Can Fight Eye Infections

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Eye infections can be very serious, leading to possible vision loss or other long-term complications if left untreated. If you already have a health condition that affects your eyes, it is even more important to take precautions to prevent infection and seek medical attention at the first sign of a possible infection. Contact lens and BostonSight® PROSE device wearers must be especially vigilant as they tend to be more susceptible to infections due to the frequency of handling lenses/prosthetics and touching the eyes.

Eye infections result from harmful bacteria, viruses, or fungi getting into the eye. Common symptoms of eye infections can include:

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Eye discharge
  • Light sensitivity

If you experience any of these symptoms and suspect that you may have an eye infection, contact your doctor immediately in order to obtain a correct diagnosis and begin treatment to resolve the infection. Treatment typically involves prescription antibiotic eye drops or ointments. Compresses might be advised to ease symptoms and promote healing. In some cases, steroid eye drops may also be needed.

Research has shed some light on a possible new treatment for eye infections. Researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey took a close look at using microbes to attack antibiotic resistant bacteria that cause serious eye infections. They discovered that naturally existing “good” pathogens present in the body could be employed to counteract the “bad” pathogens that contribute to sight-robbing eye infections. These predator pathogens caused neither toxicity nor inflammation when tested on human corneal-limbic epithelial cells. This laboratory research has opened the door to the possibility of an effective way to combat harmful bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics. These positive results strengthen the case for continued research to determine whether the predatory bacteria will have the same effect on the eye tissue of a live organism.

Although it is impossible to entirely prevent eye infections, practicing good hygiene and following instructions for proper care and disinfection of contact lenses/prosthetics can significantly reduce the chances of serious infections. Some suggestions include:

  • Wash hands frequently
  • Avoid touching eyes except when necessary
  • Follow lens/device disinfection guidelines exactly as instructed by your provider
  • When using eye drops, never touch the tip of the dropper to any surface

For PROSE device users, detailed instructions for proper care and disinfection are provided in the Prosthetic Device Use and Care guide. Additional tips are offered in the PROSE FAQs section of the BFS website. If you have further questions or concerns about device care or preventing infections, please contact your eye health care provider.