Send to

Choose Destination
Surv Ophthalmol. 1997 Nov-Dec;42(3):233-46.

Mucosal defense of the outer eye.

Author information

Department of Ophthalmology, University of Sydney, Sydney Eye Hospital, Australia.


A combination of mechanical, anatomical, immunological, and microbiological factors prevent infection of the outer eye. Mechanical and anatomical factors include the intact epithelium of the conjunctiva and cornea and the constant blinking action of the eyelids. Tear components that play a role in eye defense include lysozyme, immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, and betalysin. The normal bacterial flora of the conjunctiva may also have an inhibitory effect on the survival of more pathogenic species. The eye is linked to the common mucosal immune system, thus gaining the benefits of a system of microbial defense which is primed in the gastrointestinal tract, where a continuing large antigen load is capable of stimulating ongoing immune protection. The relative roles of the various factors contributing to prevention of eye infection remain to be fully defined.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center