Composition and comparison of the ocular surface microbiome in infants and older children

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20 Scopus citations


Purpose: Unlike other microbiomes of the body, the composition of the ocular surface microbiome (OSM) in children has yet to be thoroughly explored. Our goal was to evaluate the OSM in young infants and compare its composition to older children using both culture dependent and independent methodologies to assess for differences with age. Methods: Prospective, observational, cross-sectional study of children <18 years of age at a university-based institution. The mucosal surfaces of both eyes, nose and throat were swabbed with a forensic-quality swab. Half of the swab was plated for culture and the other half underwent 16S sequencing. Culture results and microbiome diversity were analyzed. Results: Fifty patients (mean age 37 months, range 1–168 months) were enrolled. Forty-seven eyes of 30 patients had positive cultures; four eyes grew >1 species. Culture positive patients were older (43 vs. 29 months, P = 0.19). Additionally, older children had greater diversity than children under 6 months of age by 16S sequencing (P = 0.05). Staphylococcus species were predominant by culture (35/52 isolates) and by 16S sequencing. The OSM was fairly similar to the nose microbiome, whereas the throat microbiome differed significantly and had a higher abundance of Strepto-coccaceae (P = 0.001). Conclusions: The OSM is predominantly composed of Staphylococcus species in children, as demonstrated by both culture dependent and culture independent methods. Older children were more likely to have growth on culture and have more a complex bacterial milieu with 16S sequencing. Translational Relevance: 16S sequencing provides more robust information regarding the composition of the microbiomes than culture dependent methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16
JournalTranslational Vision Science and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Bacteria
  • Children
  • Microbiome
  • Ocular surface
  • Pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Ophthalmology


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