(HealthDay News) — Changes in bacteria populations may be one reason why people who wear contact lenses are more prone to eye infections, a new study suggests. The findings were to be presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, held from May 30 to June 2 in New Orleans.
For the study, researchers took samples from nine daily contact lens wearers and 11 others who didn’t use contact lenses. They found that the types of bacteria in the eyes of the contact wearers more closely resembled those found on eyelid skin than in the eyes of those who don’t use contacts.
Specifically, the researchers found that the conjunctiva had a higher bacterial diversity than the skin directly beneath the eye. They also found that the eyes of contact lens users had three times the usual levels of certain bacteria than the eyes of those who didn’t use contact lenses.
“Our research clearly shows that putting a foreign object, such as a contact lens, on the eye is not a neutral act,” senior study investigator Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, PhD, a microbiologist at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, said in a Langone news release. “What we hope our future experiments will show is whether these changes in the eye microbiome of lens wearers are due to fingers touching the eye, or from the lens’s direct pressure affecting and altering the immune system in the eye and what bacteria are suppressed or are allowed to thrive,” she added.