Contacts and the Ocular Microbiome

If you read our blog here at CosmosID, you’re already well aware that significant amounts of research have come out over the past couple years regarding the microbial ecosystem that lives within each and every human being. And, as you surely know, one reason scientists are suddenly so intent on learning more about the intestinal microbiome is because it appears that the bacteria inside of us have far-reaching effects on our overall wellbeing.

Recently, in late March of 2016, a new study came out regarding eye microbiota associated with wearing contact lenses.

As reported by Time Magazine, a group of researchers from the New York University School of Medicine examined the microbial ecosystems living on the eyes of 58 different subjects. The variable? Some of these subjects used contact lenses, whereas others did not.

The results revealed a starker difference than one might expect. First of all, the ocular microbiomes of the subjects who wore contacts did indeed show substantive differences in terms of what species were most prominent. Additionally, the make-up of the contact-wearers’ ocular microbiomes were more diverse and quite similar to the microbiome of the skin (which makes sense if you think about placing contacts in your eyes every day).

Unfortunately, no study has yet answered the question of whether this might have a positive or negative effect on human health. Some research has previously indicated that those who wear contacts are more prone to certain eye conditions; however, it is unclear if the makeup of the ocular microbiome is the culprit. It could just as well be that our eyes get infected in spite of this adjustment in bacterial makeup--not because of.