The ocular surface flora performs an important role in the defense mechanisms of the ocular surface system. Its regulation of the immunological activity and the barrier effect against pathogen invasion are remarkable. Composition of the flora differs according to the methods of investigation, because the microbiome, composed of the genetic material of bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoa, and eukaryotes on the ocular surface, differs from the microbiota, which is the community of microorganisms that colonize the ocular surface. The observed composition of the ocular surface flora depends on harvesting and examining methods, whether with traditional culture or with more refined genetic analysis, based on rRNA and DNA sequencing. Environment, diet, sex, and age influence the microbial flora composition, thus complicating the analysis of the baseline status. Moreover, potentially pathogenic organisms can affect its composition like also various disorders, including chronic inflammation, and therapies applied to the ocular surface. A better understanding of the composition and function of microbial communities at the ocular surface could bring new insights and clarify the epidemiology and pathology of ocular surface dynamics in health and disease. The purpose of this review is to provide an up-to-date overview of knowledge about this topic.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.