A first of its kind study to explore the lesser known fungi of the human eye

A first of its kind study, led by Dr S Shivaji (Director, Prof Brien Holden Eye Research Centre at LVPEI), explored the ocular surface fungal microbiome (total fungal diversity) of healthy human eyes by using next-generation sequencing (NGS). Such studies are important for providing baseline data on fungi associated with the eye. They can also shed light on ocular surface disorders where the curative agent for the disease is not known and thus contribute towards the treatment modalities.

People involved in agriculture and farm-related activities are at greater risk of eye injuries.  At LVPEI we have seen many patients from villages, especially farmers, who have sustained similar eye injuries which have further developed into an eye infection (corneal ulcer). These patients are often diagnosed with fungal keratitis which is generally accompanied by pain and redness in the eye, and if not treated can even lead to blindness. Antifungal drugs are normally used for the treatment of fungal keratitis based on the identification of fungi by conventional culturing and microscopic methods. These conventional methods are not very effective and fungi are detected in only 12. 5% of the cases. Additionally, in a majority of the cases, only one fungus is identified. 

In comparison to the conventional method, the current NGS method detects total fungal diversity in 73% of the sample by molecular DNA cues. The study was published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. Click to read more about it: https://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2723591

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