Scleral buckle infections tend to be persistent as well as resistant to antimicrobial treatment. Often, scleral buckle infections require removal of the buckling elements for resolution. To determine if bacteria are able to persist on scleral buckles by elaborating a glycocalyx matrix or biofilm that offers protection against host defenses and antimicrobial treatment, the authors cultured 28 scleral buckle elements removed for infection and extrusion. Bacteria were isolated from 18 elements (64%). The most frequently isolated bacteria were Staphylococcus epidermidis and other coagulase-negative staphylococci (8), Staphylococcus aureus (3), corynebacteria (3), Mycobacterium chelonei (3), and Proteus mirabilis (3). Eleven (65%) of 17 buckles evaluated with scanning electron microscopy demonstrated the presence of bacteria encased in biofilm. Biofilm was demonstrated on the surfaces and ends of solid silicon elements. In the silicon sponges, biofilm also extended into the matrix of the sponges. The authors believe that bacterial production of biofilm offers an explanation for the persistence of scleral buckle infections and their ability to withstand antimicrobial treatment.
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